Seoul’s Floating Skygarden

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A kilometer-long section of a disused overpass in the heart of Seoul has been converted into an urban nursery with more than 24,000 potted plants, shrubs and trees.

The Seoul Station Overpass was built in the 1970s to provide a vehicular connection from Namdaemun market, the largest traditional market in Seoul to the East, across the station area to the various parks in the West. In 2006, following intensive safety inspections, the City of Seoul deemed the 17-meter high structure of the overpass unsafe and intended to demolish and rebuild it. But after further consultation with residents and experts, the city came up with a plan to regenerate the overpass into a pedestrian walkway and public space. A design competition was launched in 2015, and a Dutch studio named MVRDV won the project.

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The walkway is called Seoullo 7017. Its name translates to ‘towards Seoul’ and ‘Seoul Street’, while 7017 marks the overpass’ construction year of 1970, and its new function as a public walkway in 2017.

In addition to providing green space in the center of Seoul, the Skygarden is designed to be an educational experience.

“Skygarden is an educational arboretum, a nursery for future species and one that in the future will act as a garden which can extend to other parts of Seoul as the plants grow and are transferred to new homes”, says Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV. “They are planted in containers of different size and height, and organized in groups of families. The families are ordered according to the Korean alphabet. This leads to surprising spatial compositions”.

The linear park was designed as a collection of small gardens, each one with its very own composition, perfume, color and identity. The landscape will change according to the seasons: the bright colors of leaves in autumn of the Aceraceae family (maples), the blossom of cherry trees and rhododendron in spring, the evergreen conifers trees in winter and shrubs and trees bearing fruit in summer.

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