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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

More Gwanghwamun Square previews

Seoul revealed new visuals of Gwanghwamun Square 3.0, which shall be inaugurated in July.

They prolong the last major iteration presented in 2019 ("Gwanghwamun Square 3.0 re-Deep-Surfaces"), which corrected one of the worst urbanistic blunders  of the initial version ("Gwanghwamun Square Enters Third Dimension"). PARK Won-soon's team rushed the construction a few months before the elections without conducting any decent impact survey, and work started late 2020. As soon as OH Se-hoon returned as mayor, he paused the site to assess the situation, but the changes could only be cosmetic.

The Woldae extension in front of the palace gate will only be created next year, so we have yet to see how vehicles flow around Yulgok-ro's future curve. Adjusting to the modifications already in place is not always easy. As expected, the intersection in front of Sajik-dan helps reconnect both sides of Sajik-dong, but the impossible new U-turn just North of the Government building stops functioning as soon as traffic slows down (too close before a major traffic light, unlike the old one heading for Sajik tunnel).

Most important, Seoul's defining axis is preserved, with its iconic Gwanghwamun-Gyeongbokgung-Bugaksan perspective, and pedestrians will enjoy a 20 m-wide park with a vast selection of tree species, guaranteeing natural shade and oxygen as they grow. That's where most of the extension (from 18 to 40,000 square meters) comes from. People will be able to sit on benches and along the Haechi Madang ramp, where street animations may bloom next to the new media wall.

Sejong-daero's pedestrian and cycling experience has already been improved with the new green walks and bike lanes added on the way to Namdaemun (see "Lower Sejongdaero's turn"). With its fountain tunnel and pavement fountain, the 'Gwanghwamun' Lounge section is likely to welcome kids and keep them fresh during the Summer. If some artifacts found during the renovation shall be on display in the cultural section, most of the Joseon era infrastructures (see timeline*) shall be covered again. I hope the tribute to Yukjo street will not look to corny. 


On the Eastern side, Junghak-dong will not host a simple reconstitution of the old Uijeongbu site, but a fusion hanok exhibition space. I wish there were more trees in that section, but that can (and probably will, if they want the spot to be successful) be fixed later.

This Uijeongbu project was on display at the Seoul Hall Of Urbanism (see again timeline below*) during the low key, pandemic-plagued 3rd edition of the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. SBAU will return in September 2023, with CHO Byung-soo (BCHO Architects) as its Director. This architects knows a bit about dao, and Seoul could do with some more harmony...

Ganghwamun Square reopening in the heat of the Summer will be a perfect crash test. I'm pretty sure Seoulites will quickly make it their own. At least during the evenings. And as much as that damned coronavirus will allow.

Seoul Village 2022
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* From @theSeoulVillage timeline: 

"Gwanghwamun Square last week. Seoul started controversial revamping without a proper impact survey..." (20201220 -

"The few changes since the initial plan won't prevent the expected traffic pandemonium. Tragic lack of urban planning, urbanism vision from Seoul... Sejong-daero Gwanghwamun" (20210221 -

"Western side of Sejong-daero / Gwanghwamun Square to close tomorrow for the controversial revamping (future Jeokseon-dong loop in the foreground)" (20210305 -

"As expected, works on the Western side of Gwanghwamun Square for its extension reveal Joseon time artifacts and structures related to former ministries. Here, a waterway in Jeokseon-dong (between Baekundongcheon & Junghakcheon - see #urbanism)." (20210319 -

"I guess mainly to evacuate overflows towards Baekundongcheon, to contain water damage in case of heavy rains. Gwanghwamun Square urbanism Jeokseon-dong Photo Chosun Ilbo" (20210319 -
"OH Se-hoon hits pause button on controversial Gwanghwamun Square revamping. Also asks AHN Cheol-soo to suggest talents for Seoul." (20210410 -

"Seoul's unearthed Yukjogeori during Gwanghwamun Square revamping:" (20210511 -

"Gwanghwamun's future Uijeongbu site at Seoul HOUR (Seoul Biennale / SBAU):" (20211028 -

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