John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The converted overpass will be packed with flowers, tea shops, and even a library.
New York’s High Line is nice and all, with its rotating artwork and modest beds of grasses and shrubs. But Seoul is planning something that will give it a serious run for its money: a converted overpass packed with lush greenery, burbling water, and even a street library.
The ‘70s-era Seoul Station Overpass was originally used for vehicle traffic and has a sprawling, multi-armed design that’s perfect for a new urban park. Rotterdam architecture firm MVRDV has taken full advantage of the structure’s immense scale—56 feet high and more than 3,000 feet long—planning to divide it into several “neighborhoods” of native plant species. The trees and dangling flowers, colored all the hues of a pop starlet’s makeup cabinet, will shelter cafes selling tea, flower shops, produce markets, and, as if the space needed more chlorophyll, greenhouses.
Here’s MVRDV’s vision for the future of the project, scheduled for completion in 2017:
In the future, the overpass will evolve with new plants and new activators so as to become an “urban nursery,” rearing trees for the surrounding districts. Additional structures of stairs, lifts and escalators as well as new “satellite” gardens, can connect to the Skygarden, sprouting like branches from the existing structural piers. These extensions can inspire further additions to the area’s greenery and public spaces, and will connect the Skygarden to its surroundings both physically and visually through plant species related to each of the neighbourhoods.
According to the below illustrations, the project might even include a mighty water slide, though I’m guessing that’s actually just a spiral staircase. Take a peek: