Seoul, South Korea, is the latest metropolitan city to follow in the footsteps of New York’s High Line by transforming a 1970s highway overpass, once slated for demolition, into a public park.
The Dutch architecture firm MVRDV first released its design proposal for the highway in 2015–Co.Design covered the idea at the time–and now, the project has opened to the public. At a little over a half-mile long, the park makes Seoul more walkable, and a little (or a lot) more green. It plays host to 24,000 plants, including 228 species and sub-species of Korean flora. The plants that are grown there will eventually be transplanted to other areas, making the park an “urban nursery” whose effects will be felt elsewhere in the dense urban neighborhoods it bridges.
The park is dubbed Seoullo 7017, which roughly translates to “Seoul Street” or “Toward Seoul.” Though it rises more than 50 feet above street level, the former overpass is knitted into the landscape of the city itself, with staircases connecting it to the ground while bridges link it to buildings it passes.
Similar projects have sprung up around the globe after the success of New York’s High Line, which first opened in 2009 and brought with it soaring real estate prices and increased development (and, more recently, accusations of gentrification). North American cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, Mexico City, and Toronto, and Asian metropolises like Singapore and Seoul have all instituted similar projects that re-use abandoned infrastructure like highways and railroad tracks.
Will Seoullo 7017 be as popular as the High Line? Only time will tell. But in a giant city like Seoul, a little more green can go a long way.