– An overpass built in 1970 turned into a 1,024-meter-long pedestrian road called “Seoullo 7017”
– A concrete structure reborn into a living space full of nature
– Expected to be a new landmark in Seoul, where citizens and tourists can enjoy the city’s history and nature
– An innovative example of urban development focused on urban regeneration and pedestrian rights
– Seoul opens Seoullo 7017 to the public on May 20
Many people who live in cities don’t have much time to walk around during the day. Yet even when they do, especially on days when the weather is good, there are only few nice places for them to take a walk.
Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark, was ranked as the happiest city in the world, according to the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, and Portland, Oregon, a city in the United States, has strived to make itself more eco-friendly by establishing an urban growth boundary. For its part, London, in the United Kingdom, has created small forests and parks throughout the city, and the initiative to encourage more people to walk to and from work seems to have been gaining momentum in recent years. Tokyo, Japan, is a city where walking has become commonplace and has been encouraging its citizens to take more walks by broadcasting TV shows on the subject, among other initiatives.
Urban planning that prioritizes pedestrians in large metropolises has been spreading around the world, especially in countries such as Denmark, the United States, and the United Kingdom and cities like Paris and Barcelona. And various ideas have been suggested on how to create more “walkable cities.” In the past, wide roads accommodating fast-moving traffic were seen as crucial to the competitiveness of cities. But today, such competitiveness is determined by how safe and comfortable it is to walk in a city. Thus, “walkable urbanism” has been emerging as a new global standard in this regard.
Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea, has been developing and implementing a number of urban renewal policies to create more “walkable roads” in the city. As part of the effort to create a new city brand, Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon has been aggressively promoting Seoul as a “Great City for Walking.”
Toward this end, Seoul Metropolitan Government has turned a 1,024-meter-long elevated road, which has carried vehicle traffic through Seoul for the past 45 years, into “Seoullo 7017,” a pedestrian walkway. Expected to make a major contribution to realizing the vision of “Seoul, a Great City for Walking,” Seoullo 7017 opens to the public on May 20.
Seoul Station is a major gateway to Seoul that sees an average of 390,000 commuters and travelers every day. However, the area has long been isolated like an island, surrounded by roads on all sides. Despite the area’s location in the heart of Seoul, its development has been slow compared to other surrounding areas, such as Gwanghwamun, Yongsan, and Mapo. Moreover, the deterioration of the residential environment and lack of infrastructure have caused inconveniences for residents.
By overhauling the deteriorated Seoul Station Overpass, which had been slated for demolition, the city has created the Seoullo 7017 pedestrian walkway in hopes of protecting citizens’ right to walk and revitalizing the heart of Seoul. By linking Seoullo 7017 with nearby tourist attractions, such as Sungnyemun Gate, Seoul Fortress Wall, Myeong-dong, and Namdaemun Market, the city plans to have the walkway become a cornerstone of integration and revitalization in downtown Seoul and turn the Seoul Station area into a transportation center of the city.
“Seoullo 7017,” the new name for the Seoul Station Overpass, combines “1970,” the year it was built, with “2017,” the year of its rebirth as a pedestrian walkway, thereby emphasizing the historic nature of the road, while also referring to the 17 connected paths and the height of the overpass, which is 17 meters. The Seoullo 7017 project is the first urban renewal project headed by Oh Joon Sik, the creative director of VJO. Oh is a graduate of Hongik University and the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs (ENSAD) as well as the creator of the brand identity of “Seoullo 7017.”
The Seoul Station 7017 Project began with the idea that “beauty cannot exist without history.” It also emphasized that the first step in urban development should be sharing with citizens and local residents, thereby allowing them to be involved in the development process. In addition, it sought to preserve the memories and history of Seoul through regeneration rather than reckless development.
For the Seoullo 7017 Project, Seoul Metropolitan Government held an international design competition for the renewal of the Seoul Station Overpass, accepting entries from January 2015. On May 13 of the same year, the design submitted by Winy Maas was chosen as the winner. Winner of the Amsterdam Art Prize in 2004, Maas is a world-renowned architect known for the structures Maquinnext (2012) in Barcelona, Spain, and Market Hall (2014) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Speaking about the project, Winy Maas said, “The Seoul Station Overpass is very unique. It is often compared to the Highline in New York, but there are many aspects that set it apart. For one, the size is different. Also, they’re different in terms of height and context. And the Seoul Station Overpass is located in the center of the city. I think it’s a more interesting project. The idea to transform the Seoul Station Overpass into a completely different kind of space is a great one.”
Seoullo 7017 aims to portray the Seoul Station Overpass as a massive tree, stretching from Toegye-ro to Jungnim-dong and with its ramps as branches. Also, its 17 paths* are all organically connected, creating a network of pedestrian roads throughout the Seoul Station area, which had previously been severed only by railroads and subway systems. The vision and strategy of the project, which aimed to transform a dilapidated concrete structure into a space filled with life based on a nature theme, have been praised for being future-oriented and innovative.
* 17 paths: ① Toegye-ro, ② Namdaemun Market, ③ Hoehyeon-dong, ④ Sungnyemun Gate, ⑤ Seoul Fortress Wall, ⑥ Daewoo Foundation building, ⑦ Hotel Manu, ⑧ Sejong-daero, ⑨ Subway (Seoul Station, Line 4), ⑩ Seoul Station Bus Transfer Center, ⑪ Seoul Station Plaza, ⑫ Airport Terminal, ⑬ Cheongpa-dong, ⑭ Malli-dong, ⑮ Son Kee Chung Sports Park ⑯ Jungnim-dong, and ⑰ Seosomun Park
The view of the Seoul Station area from Seoullo 7017 will become a new icon of tourism in Seoul. As Seoullo 7017 will be connected to the Seoul Fortress and Seoul Dulle-gil trails, people will be able to enjoy the history and nature of Seoul while walking through the city’s center.
A total of 24,085 trees and plants of 228 species and 50 families that are endemic to Seoul and capable of growing on artificial ground, such as shade plants and perennial flowers, will be planted along Seoullo 7017. In addition, 18 shops, conveniences, and amenities, including a café, outdoor stage, flower shop, flowerpot benches, and the Rose Stage and Magnolia Stage, will be installed for Seoul citizens and tourists to enjoy, making Seoullo 7017 a wonderful resting place high above the ground in the heart of the city.
Four balconies, located near the Seoul Station, Sungnyemun Gate, Jungnim-dong, and Cheongpa-dong areas, have been installed along the path to give citizens and visitors places to enjoy a panorama of the heart of Seoul while standing 17 meters above the ground. Moreover, tempered glass windows with a diameter of 60 centimeters have been installed in three places along the bottom of the path, allowing pedestrians to enjoy the thrilling experience of watching trains and cars pass by underneath their feet.
Also, by combining the traffic island and garbage truck garage located under the Seoul Station Overpass, the city will create Malli-dong Plaza. Featuring 18 benches and water fountains, the plaza will become a unique place where citizens can enjoy the view of trees rarely seen in Seoul while also ensuring that the wonderful view from Seoullo 7017 remains unobstructed.
“Instead of tearing down the Seoul Station Overpass, which has long served the city as a major route for vehicle traffic, we decided to transform it into a pedestrian road in order to revitalize the deteriorated Seoul Station area and its surroundings,” remarked Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon. “We do our best to promote the project, aiming to not only revive the elevated road, but turn it into a place where people can come together. Also, we hope that the momentum generated by this project will serve as a catalyst for the renewal and revival of the surrounding area.”
Seoul Metropolitan Government is plans and prepares for the opening ceremony of Seoullo 7017, based on the basic idea that it should be a festival that brings citizens and local residents together and gives them a chance to experience the real value of urban renewal and the pleasure of walking along Seoullo 7017.
For more information on Seoullo 7017, please visit:
Meaning of the project ‘Seoullo 7017’
A Network of Walkways Connected to 17 Pedestrian Paths
Winy Maas, architect of Seoullo 7017
Oh Joon-sik, Seoullo 7017 naming and design donator
Main Green Trails in Seoul
This pedestrian road located within the four gates of Seoul is a circular road that begins from Seoullo 7017, passes through Jeongdong, an area full of modern and contemporary architectural assets from the period of the Korean Empire and afterwards, as well as Insa-dong, Dongdaemun, and Myeong-dong, and finally leads back to Seoul Station.
Jeong-dong, known as the most representative modern heritage site in Seoul, became the center of South Korean diplomacy when the United States’ legation was established there. Afterwards, churches, educational facilities, and medical centers were built along the street, and it became a popular dating spot for couples in the 1970s. Since the asphalt was removed in 1998, it has become one of the most walkable paths in Seoul.
Insa-dong, another major neighborhood of Korean tradition and culture, was designated as Korea’s first “cultural zone” in 2002 and has been attracting a steady stream of foreign tourists ever since.
The Seoul Dulle-gil trails, the most popular walking trails among Seoul citizens, are great places to enjoy all the charms of the city and explore Seoul’s history, culture, and natural environment. Construction of the trails began in 2009. One of the Dulle-gil courses is called “Naesasan (meaning “Four Inner Mountains”) Dulle-gil” (or “Seoul City Wall Trail”), an 18.6-kilometer-long trail that links the four mountains of Seoul (Namsan, Naksan, Bugaksan, and Inwangsan mountains), the four main city gates, and Seoul City Wall. Another course is called Oesasan (meaning “Four Outer Mountains”) Dulle-gil, a 157-kilometer-long trail that links Gwanaksan, Bukhansan, Suraksan, and Achasan mountains.
Consisting of eight courses spanning a total of 157 kilometers, the Dulle-gil trails can be largely divided into three types: forest (85 kilometers), streamside (40 kilometers), and neighborhood (32 kilometers). If you were to walk for eight hours a day, you could cover the entire length of the trails, taking you all around Seoul, in about 10 days. One major factor that has contributed to the popularity of Seoul’s Dulle-gil trails is accessibility. The starting and ending points, as well as numerous points along the trails, are connected to subway stations, making it easier for people to get to and explore the trails. Moreover, there are 35 historic and cultural properties located along the trails, such as Buddhist temples, allowing citizens and visitors to experience the history, culture, and natural beauty of Seoul.
First created on Gwanaksan Mountain in May 2013, barrier-free forest trails are trails through wooded areas with gradients of less than eight percent (as per the requirements for facilities for people with disabilities), making them easily accessible to people with wheelchairs and strollers. Ansan Jarak-gil in Seodaemun-gu and Seodalsan Jarak-gil in Dongjak-gu are the most popular barrier-free forest trails in Seoul. In particular, Ansan Jarak-gil (seven kilometers long) is Korea’s first circular barrier-free mountain walking trail, passing through forests of acacia, metasequoia, and spruce trees and allowing visitors to enjoy the refreshing scent of the forest. It is also a great vantage point from which to enjoy various views of Inwangsan and Bukhansan mountains and the Hangang River. The cherry and acacia blossoms that line the trail in the spring are especially beautiful. Seodalsan Jarak-gil, in Dongjak-gu, offers a great view of the Hangang River and provides access to major landmarks, including Seoul National Cemetery and the historic Dalmasa Temple. It also features a path lined with pine trees and a “forest therapy site.”