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Seoullo 7017 Skygarden

MVRDV’s design for Seoullo 7017 Skygarden offers residents and visitors of Seoul, a living dictionary of plants, shrubs and tress which celebrate the natural vegetation of South Korea. Located on a former intercity highway, this 983-metre long public park gathers 50 families of plants (including trees, shrubs and flowers) displayed in 645 tree pots and collecting around 228 species and sub-species. In total, the park includes 24,000 plants and connects city dwellers to nature right in central Seoul. Skygarden is an urban transformation offering the users the opportunity to experience nature and amazing views of Seoul Station and the historic Namdaemun Gate. It is also an educational arboretum and a nursery for future species. The project creates new landscape in Seoul on two levels. Firstly, it is an enormous public domain for pedestrians use in a city dominated by car usage. Skygarden is the first step in creating pedestrianised routes and neighbourhoods to the centre and its railway station. This linear park is a place where people can slow down their pace in the heart of the city, they are invited to sit down, look around, admire the different trees and plants and meet their fellow citizens. The abundance of varied local vegetation species, presented in (Korean) alphabetical order, gives the park a special feature as it changes every season. A linear park that also serves as a sculpture garden, in which trees and plants are pieces of art, placed on a pedestal to be studied and admired. At night, trees are illuminated as bright stars in a dark blue sky. Skygarden changed the city’s urban landscape itself and the perceptions of it. Walking on the former highway, climbing up to a 17m+ level, visitors experience views that were not available before, changing the mental map of the city. And where the bridge lands, the public space has changed from traffic island and grey streets into micro parks and pedestrian streets with terraces and café’s.

THE SKYGARDEN
The pedestrianised viaduct next to Seoul’s main station is the next step towards making the city greener, friendlier and more attractive. Since the project began in May 2015, the main challenge of the Skygarden project has been to transform a 938-meter long existing overpass into a public garden, overlaying a matrix of Korean flora onto the 16m elevated steel structure. From the start, MVRDV engaged with the need to change this infrastructural element into a green symbol, changing the image of the city centre of Seoul. Together with the Seoul’s Municipality, local NGO’s, landscape teams and city advisers, MVRDV was deeply committed to accommodating the biggest diversity of flora into a strictly urban condition. The park is populated by 16 small pavilions such as cafes, shops, exhibitions, gardener’s pavilions, trampolines, foot bath, stage and children’s theatre and information centre as well. They enhance the experience of the users, boosting the park with extra fun activities that engage the city on a cultural and commercial level. Multiple stairs, lifts, bridges and escalators connect the city to the new park, rebounding it to the adjacent urban fabric.

THE ARBORETUM
Skygarden, located in the heart of Seoul is a plant village, an ever-changing landscape that accommodates the biggest variety of Korean species into a public park, gathering 52 families of plants including trees, shrubs and flowers displayed in 645 tree pots, collecting around 160 species and sub-species. In total, the park will include 24,000 plants (trees, shrubs and flowers). The linear park was designed as a collection of small gardens, each one with its very own layout, perfume, colour and identity. The landscape will change according to the seasons: the bright colours 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. Some of the flora highlights are the two large squares: the colourful Rosa Square where one can enjoy concerts and performances, next to the flowery tree pots and the Magnolia Square with an open-air stage and café.
The huge water lilies ponds on the Nymphaeaceae area and the photogenic Ginko trees are also a must-see in the garden. There will be edible berries and fruit spread over the Skygarden and succulent plants in the area from the Crassulacean family. More than 800 mobile tree pots will be added to the garden to enhance the change in seasons. Just like an open-air encyclopaedia, the plant families are organised in alphabetic order, from East to West, creating easy navigation to finding the species on display.

THE SATELLITES
The urban-nursery is both a reference and a source of inspiration for future developments in Seoul and Korea in general. The Skygarden aims to expand its roots to the surrounding areas of the bridge, be creating a strategy to transform it into a much greener and pedestrian-friendly condition. The green strategy includes increasing the number of pedestrian streets and green squares, giving more space for pocket gardens, green alleys, green roofs, green parking and terrace projects to grow and expand, as part of this satellite expansion around the bridge. The plant library should be credited to Ben Kuipers (Dutch Landscape Designer) and KECC, the local landscape partner.

Skygarden not only adds public space for pedestrians but overall, it also to connect and breathes new life into public spaces in the neighbourhoods around.

Entrant office name: MVRDV – Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries
Role of the entrant in the project: Architect/Urbanism/Landscape
Website: https://www.mvrdv.nl/projects/seoul-skygarden
Other designers involved in the design of landscape:
Competition
MVRDV: Winy Maas, Wenchian Shi with Kyosuk Lee, Kai Wang, Ángel Sánchez Navarro, Jaewoo Lee, Antonio Luca Coco, Matteo Artico and Jaime Domínguez Balgoma.
Design Development
MVRDV: Winy Maas, Wenchian Shi with Kyosuk Lee, Mafalda Rangel, Daehee Suk, Daan Zandbergen, Kai Wang, Sen Yang and Dong Min Lee
Landscape Design: Ben Kuipers landscape architect, MVRDV
Local Architect: DMP, Seoul, Korea
Structure: Saman Engineering, Seoul, Korea
Local Landscape Designer: KECC, Seoul, Korea
Lighting Design: Rogier van der Heide, MVRDV and Nanam Ald, Seoul Korea
Construction
MVRDV: Winy Maas, Wenchian Shi with Kyosuk Lee, Mafalda Rangel, Dong Min Lee
Landscape Design: Ben Kuipers Landscape architect
Partners
Landscape Architect: Ben Kuipers, Delft, Netherlands
Local Architect: DMP, Seoul, Korea
Structure: Saman Engineering, Seoul, Korea
Local Landscape Designer: KECC, Seoul, Korea
Sustainability: EAN, Seoul, Korea
Architectural Structure: Cross, Seoul, Korea
Industrial Designers: Studio Makkink & Bey, Amsterdam, Netherlands
MEP: Samsin, Seoul, Korea
Traffic Engineers: Song Hyun R&D, Seoul, Korea
Lighting Design: Viabizzuno, Milan, Italy and Nanam Ald, Seoul Korea
App Design: nhtv, Breda, Netherlands
Cost Engineers: Myong Gun, Seoul, Korea
Project location (Street, City, Country): 1 Mallidong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Design year: 2015
Year Built: 2017

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