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Old highway becomes public park with 24,000 plants in Seoul

Seoullo 7017 runs above Seoul Station

Aerial shot of a steel and concrete overpass spotted with hundreds of cylindrical planters.
The sky garden runs nearly a kilometer long.
Images (c) Ossip van Duivenbode courtesy of MVRDV

A new urban garden has risen in the heart of Seoul, South Korea, where a 938-meter (3,077-feet) elevated highway first built in 1970 has been transformed into a “sky garden” featuring 24,000 trees, shrubs, and flowers.

Designed by Rotterdam-based practice MVRDV, Seoullo 7017 is a 16-meter-tall steel-and-concrete former overpass that is now a plant village and public park. It is literally translated as “Towards Seoul,” and the park runs above Seoul Station, connecting Namdaemun Market with the neighborhoods of Malli-dong, Jungnim-dong, and Cheongpa-dong. Newly constructed bridges and stairs connect the highway with hotels, shops, and gardens.

Seoullo 7017 is part of the capital city’s initiative to make the urban center, and especially the central station district, greener and more pedestrian-friendly. Approximately 50 families and 228 species and sub-species of plants are displayed in 645 cylindrical planters of varying sizes, whose bases glow blue at night.

The sky garden is reminiscent of New York City’s High Line park, and is a well-executed example of a disused overpass (or underpass) that has found new life as a public space. In the future, the park will act as a nursery and produce plants for the surrounding districts.