Seoul’s sustainable ‘Park in the Sky’

A former stretch of highway above the capital of South Korea has been transformed into a stunning skypark, known as Seoullo 7017. Containing both local and foreign tree species, the elevated, linear park spans 1,024m and stands 17m above street level.

Seoullo 7017 is built above the old Seoul Station overpass, which was constructed in 1970 as a solution to growing traffic congestion. The overpass closed in 2015. As part of a plan to rejuvenate the area and protect the city’s rich history, the Seoul government partnered with Dutch architecture firm, MVRDV, to reimagine the structure into a picturesque pedestrian highway.

Seoullo 7017 features over 24,000 plants representing 228 species of trees, shrubs and flowers from both inside and outside Korea. The innovative design is inspired by New York’s famous High Line, while the name is derived from the year the overpass was built (1970) and the year in which it was reborn (2017).

As well as connecting 17 paths around Seoul and providing convenient access to the city’s main attractions, Seoullo 7017 is home to a tourist information centre, a café, a gift shop and a plethora of popular eateries. The pathway provides a view of the traffic below, shade from the trees, plants and flowers, plus an engaging video exhibition. There are also foot massage machines installed for passers-by to relax.

Since opening in May 2018, Seollo 7017 has attracted millions of visitors, including more than 3 million locals and tourists within the first 100 days of its opening. The attractive landscaping, thoughtful amenities and family friendly atmosphere have helped to revive many nearby traditional markets, as well as the northern area of Seoul Station.

“I walk home after getting off from subway over there,” said local resident Hyung-jung Lee. “It’s quite a convenient and fun way home, avoiding the busy traffic down on the street. I can also meet friends at cafés to enjoy some special foods and drinks that are only sold here.”

Kwangsu Than, a local retiree, also meets his friend on the skygarden. “We chat while enjoying foot massages here,” he said. “We sometimes sell things to raise funds for charity here as there are many passers-by.”

The success of Seoullo 7017 is expected to not only continue, but expand, with local tour guide, Hyona Kim, predicting exciting plans for the park’s future. “In the future, the park may become an urban nursery, growing trees and plants for replanting elsewhere in the city”, she said.