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This week’s city reading: Seoullo 7017 (“Seoul’s High Line”) edition

Seoul, a city ‘with no soul,’ builds its own High Line on an old overpass (Anna Fifield, The Washington Post) “Unlike the High Line, built on an old rail line on Manhattan’s Lower West Side, the walkway will connect with buildings — there are already bridges into an office tower and a hotel — and will have cafes and performance areas. There are even trampolines for kids — with fences to make sure they don’t bounce over the edge.”

Seoullo 7017, Mayor Park’s Cheonggye Stream? (Jon Dunbar, Korea Times) “The finished Seoullo 7017 will certainly breathe new life into the whole area, connecting Namdaemun and Malli-dong to Seoul Station and bringing in more foot traffic. But property values will inevitably go up, and we will likely see future ill-advised urban renewal projects in the area in an attempt to beautify or monetize the land and its buildings.”

A garden bridge that works: how Seoul succeeded where London failed (Rowan Moore, The Guardian) “Where the Garden Bridge would have been a cherry on the already rich cake that is the centre of London, the Skygarden aims to regenerate and connect places near the main railway station that have been fragmented by roads and railway tracks. The Skygarden, which will be open to all 24 hours a day, re-uses an existing structure – like the High Line – in the form of a 1970 motorway flyover that was no longer deemed safe for its original purpose. It is also part of a bigger set of ideas about taking a big, dense – sometimes ugly – city, one which was created without a great deal of concern for public space and pedestrian movement, and giving it qualities of walkability, neighbourliness, human scale and shared enjoyment of its places.”

Seoullo 7017: Urban Asset or Vanity Project? (Ben Jackson, Korea Exposé) “Mayor Park’s new elevated landmark tries so hard to tick all the boxes – natural oasis in the heart of the city, pedestrian route to promote walking, cultural venue, place of education – that it risks actually filling none of them. When the current lack of a traffic alternative or substantial measures to protect local residents and businesses are added to the equation, it’s hard not to conclude that the city government has misjudged the project.”

Seoullo 7017 – A Seoul Overpass Turned Pedestrian Sky Garden (Spooky, Oddity Central) “The name Seoullo 7017 is a nod to the two most important years in the structure’s existence – 1970, the year that the overpass was constructed, and 2017, the year of its transformation. It also features 17 walkways that pedestrian can use to access it from various areas of the city. Seoullo 7017 features 645 giant concrete pots, some of which are taller than an average-height person, containing 228 species of trees and flowers. It is also designed to be an “urban nursery” for trees, many of which will eventually be transplanted to other areas of the city.”

Man plunges to death from Seoul overpass-turned-park (Byun Hee-jin, The Korea Herald) “According to police, a 32-year-old man from Kazakhstan threw himself from Seoullo 7017, near Cheongpa-ro, west of Seoul Station. The elevated park, which opened May 20, has 1.4-meter high safety walls erected on both sides. According to police, the park had other visitors at the time of the incident. Citizens and the police sought to dissuade the man from jumping, but to no avail.”

See also (hear also?) my Seoullo 7017 sneak-preview urbanism segment on TBS eFM’s Koreascape.