Seoul urban shift: the transformation of obsolete infrastructure into linear parks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Technology has pervaded the urban discourse since the Modern Movement, where mechanically mass-produced houses - inspired by the Ford automobile manufacturing system - became the main preoccupation of the architectural profession (Herbert, 1984). The new cities were thus formed according to these principles, dominated by science and function (Hall, 1988). Large infrastructure networks were also a sign of technological advancement and the convoluted road systems of the American highways in the 1970s inspired many other cities around the world (Banham, 2009). Nowadays, large global cities have to deal with an ever-growing population density asking for quality public spaces, while a shift into smart technology rendered some of these infrastructural networks obsolete, creating new possibilities for their regeneration.
This paper deals with the naturalisation of some of the metropolitan infrastructure in Seoul, seen as a coherent strategy to create a pedestrian web by transforming the obsolete urban technological systems into public spaces. The High Line in New York is certainly the most celebrated project of its kind, even though the first elevated park to be realised is the Promenade Plantée in Paris, which turned a long-abandoned mid-19th century viaduct into a remarkable park. The city of Seoul is developing several linear parks, reclaiming existing structures and aiming to shift its modern architectural image - often criticised for being merely a reflection of technical expertise - into a highly cultural and technologically advanced metropolis, adding elements that give symbolic meaning to the city (Hyungmin, 2012).
The first part of this paper will briefly illustrate the characteristics of South Korea and its modern development, embodied primarily in the city of Seoul. The second part explores the two main recent urban renewal projects in the city: the Cheonggyecheon - a regeneration of a previously existing stream in the very centre of Seoul; and the recently opened Seoullo 7017 designed by MVRDV - a sky-garden built on an elevated road.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDisruptive technologies
Subtitle of host publicationThe integration of advanced technology in architecture teaching and radical projects for the future city
EditorsThomas Auer, Alessandro Melis, Fabrizio Aimar
PublisherWolters Kluwer Italia
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)978-88-5981651-5
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2017


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