SEOUL, Feb 26, 2015 – Seoul Metropolitan Government sets out to reinvigorate the Sewoon Sangga area through ‘urban regeneration’ The Sewoon Sangga is the first modern residential-commercial complex of Korea, founded in 1968. However, the area has been largely lagged behind. By repairing and reinforing the old, three-story height pedestrian deck, and reconnecting the Sewoon Sangga(Ga-dong) and DaelimSangga with the Skywalk, Seoul will revitalize the area while maintaining the current industrial ecosystem.
Seoul will implement revitalization program in related with culture and tourism and build dynamic pedestrian walk-network as parts of city’s efforts to make the area a hub of urban culture, tourism, and industries, with an aim to attract inflow of tourists to the area and reinvigorate the local economy.
The urban regeneration project consists of two phases, in which seven buildings in the total of 1 km street are covered. At the first phase, Seoul plans to vitalize the area spans over Jongno, Sewoon Sangga, and Cheonggye·Daelim Sangga by building skywalks. Seoul has formed the residents’ committee with which it engaged in continuous discussions over the details and methods of the regeneration project.
Since last March’s decision to keep the Sewoon Sangga, SMG has been engaged in diverse discussions with experts T/F, the residents’ committee and others to devise the ‘The Comprehensive Plan for Sewoon Sangga Regeneration’. SMG announced the plan on Feb 24 (Tues), along with its decision to host an international design contest for the project.
The main idea behind ‘The Comprehensive Plan for Sewoon Sangga Regeneration’ is to transform the Sewoon Sangga , which had been on a steady decline, to be a hub of urban business that connects culture and tourism, so that the area will serve as a catalyst to vitalize the surrounding areas.
The project includes the following steps: to build dynamic pedestrian network by reconnecting pedestrian decks, to implement diverse revitalization programs at the pedestrian deck of Sewoon Sangga, in line with local festivals in order to attract inflow of visitors, and to maintain the districts industrial ecosystem by securing the strongpoint space.
At the time of its 1968 construction, the pedestrian deck connected buildings in a balcony form, but parts of the deck, between Sewoon Sangga(Ga-dong) and Cheonggye Sangga, was demolished as Cheonggye Stream restoration project was implemented. Under the regeneration project, the area will be reconnected with the skywalk and dynamic pedestrian network will be established.
For the first phase of the project, wide crosswalk will be newly built in the Jongno section, taking into account of 20 m of Jongmyo king’s path. As for Sewoon Green Belt Park, which is currently used as an urban agriculture space, Seoul will transform the area into multi-purpose cultural space, reflecting residents’ opinion that the park has little effect on the local economy. Outdated pedestrian decks over Sewoon, Cheonggye, Daelim Sangga, will be repaired and reinforced, as well as walk conditions on the lower side of the deck will be improved.
In order to make sure that the new skywalk connecting Sewoon Sangga(Ga-dong) and Cheonggye Sangga has aesthetic value that is harmonized with the view of Cheonggye Stream as well as serve its function well, Seoul will decide its design through the international design contest for domestic and overseas experts.
In addition, visitors to Cheonggye Steam will be able to go to Jongmyo and Namsan directly by walk, as Seoul will enhance the accessibility with elevators and other paths. By doing so, Seoul expects that the area will emerge as a new tourist attraction site where people can enjoy the tour by foot.
SMG also plans to devise an elaborate operation strategy to ensure that the pedestrian deck will not be just a pathway, but a culture and art space where citizens and tourists can gather and entertain themselves.
In Nov, 2014, about 20 site experts who are dedicated to the revitalization of Sewoon Sangga, formed Sewoon Forum. The forum has serves as a venue to propose diverse project-related programs and implementation methods.The site experts, who are mostly young, have been working in the Sewoon Sangga and presented creative ideas, which will adopted and implemented by SMG.
Some of the ideas include to build a) ‘Sewoon Memory repository’ where documents and photos of Sangga people and its history, b) ‘Sewoon Customer-made Shop’, where craftsman make anything a customer orders, c)’Red Attic’, where video clips, posters on the Sewoon Sangga of 1970s and 1980s. In addition, cultural and art activists participatory programs will be implemented as well.
Another focus of Seoul’s regeneration project is to turn the current industrial ecosystem of the area into a base for advanced and creation economy of the 21st century.
Back in 1970s, Sewoon Sangga enjoyed an economic boom, and had been a center of manufacturing industries, carrying electricity, electronic, machines and metals products. In those times, the success of Sewoon Sangga seemed to be unstoppable, as the famous joke of the time “Even missiles or tanks can be made in Sewoon Sangga” illustrated. Though pale in comparison with those times, there is still an industrial ecosystem around Sewoon Sangga area, which functions as a giant factory complex.
Seoul will first tap into the empty spaces of Sewoon Sangga and use those spaces for urban industry experience spaces and exhibition rooms as well as foothold to support start-ups, so that the area can serve as catalyst for revitalizing the industry of the district.
Notably, Seoul will relax restrictions on the floor area ratio in the districts to maintain urban industry, and secure buildings or lands to use the spaces for urban industry support center and studio for small and medium sized handcraft shops and workrooms.
Lee Je-won, the director of SMG Urban Regeneration department said, “Sewoon Sangga is not a mere urban and architectural heritage of Seoul, but also is the place that holds new cultural value and meaning as the complex of history, culture and industry. Through the regeneration project, Seoul expects that the whole neighboring district will be invigorated and the area will emerge as a horizontal landmark that connects the north and the south of Seoul downtown.”
About Sewoon Sangga:
In 1945, at the end of the second war, when Korea was still under the Japanese colonial rule, the Sewoon Sangga area was an empty space to prevent the spread of fire ignited bombing. In 1950, when the Korean War broke out, the area turned into an illegal settlement camp for refugees. Sewoon Sangga is the first modern building through Korea’s first urban regeneration project in 1960s, designed by architect Kim Soo-Geun.
It also marks Korea’s first residential-commercial complex as well as the country’s one and only commercial complex for home appliances. Befitting its name ‘Sewoon, which means “attracts all the energy of the world”, the complex enjoyed the economic boom in 1970s before going on a decline as its functions were eclipsed by other areas such as Gangnam and Yongsan, which were modernized by the government’s massive development projects. In 2009, according to the ‘Sewoon Green Area Building Project’, the demolishment of Sewoon Sangga was decided. However, due to the concerns that the demolishment of the building will cause further recession of the local economy and disrupt the industrial ecosystem, it was finally decided in March, 2014 to keep the Sewoon Sangga intact.