It's always interesting to see how well fanciful renders translate into an actual project and the MVRDV-designed Seoullo 7017 Skygarden is no exception. Following the concept's unveiling a couple of years ago, the highway-turned-walkway/park has now opened to the public.
The Seoullo 7017 Skygarden is located in the heart of Seoul and can be thought of as a South Korean take on NYC's High Line. It involved the renovation of a 1970s-era highway overpass into a 983 m (3,225 ft)-long public attraction.
Some 24,000 plants have been installed on the 16 m (52 ft)-high steel and concrete structure, including trees, shrubs and flowers. In all honesty, the project looks rather bare compared to the vision the renders promised but this is understandable as the greenery will take some time to grow – indeed, up to a decade to reach their full height, in some cases. In the future, the idea is for the overpass to serve as a kind of urban nursery, rearing trees for replanting in nearby districts.
Small cylindrical cafes, flower shops, and street markets help to break up the landscaping, and porthole-style glass floor sections allow visitors to gawk at the streets below. At night, the entire Skygarden is lit up blue, but the color can be changed during festivals and city celebrations.
Rather than just leave the former highway as a kind of marooned structure, MVRDV sensibly added a network of bridges and stairs to provide connections to hotels, shops and gardens, in some cases significantly reducing the commute for locals. MVRDV also says that additional structures, as well as more gardens, could be connected to increase its size.
"The pedestrianized viaduct next to Seoul's main station is the next step towards making the city and especially the central station district, greener, friendlier and more attractive, whilst connecting all patches of green in the wider area," says the firm in a press release.
The Seoullo part of the 7017 Skygarden name derives from Seoullo, Korean for both "towards Seoul" and "Seoul Street", while 7017 reflects the overpass' original construction year of 1970 and its re-opening as a park in 2017.