Seoul / Reshaping the Streetscape (III): Bridging North and South

Cheonggye Expressway as a massive public infrastructure in the developmental era previously cut through the urban fabrics and formed a separation border between the northern and southern part of Seoul. In order to prevent the long restored Cheonggyecheon to repeat the mistake of highway, 22 bridges were designed and constructed along the 5.84km restored stream to bridge the traffic between North and South.

The 22 bridges, with the dimension varying from 65 feet to 380 feet long and from 85 feet to 193.5 feet wide (Re:streets, n.d.), were designed by various architects that submitted their work through international competition. They were later named by the public through online opinion collection forums. Among these 22 bridges, 7 are pedestrian bridges, 11 are vehicle bridges and remaining 4 are accessible by both pedestrians and vehicles.

These bridges facilitated the accessibility across the river and thus the development of urban blocks along the same axis. For example, near the Dongdaemun area, the Ogansugyo for vehicles and Malgeunnaedari for pedestrians connect the shopping complexes North and South to Cheonggyecheon to form the renowned Dongdaemun shopping region. Customers can easily access the Dongdaemun Shopping Complex and Shoes Market on the North from the Dongdaemun Fashion Town and Dongdaemun Design Plaza and Park on the South now. The same benefit is also brought to the different blocks of the Seun Arcade which are bridged by the Seungyo now.

cheonggyecheon-seoul-english-map
Urban blocks along Cheonggyecheon (Source: lookatkorea.com)

The bridges also separate the pedestrian and vehicle traffic in section. Citizens can enjoy the environment and touch of water without the disturbance by the road traffic. However at the same time, the east-west access of motor vehicles has become more difficult. As the number of lanes has drastically been reduced, it became hard for vehicles to stop at the roadside for loading and unloading. The Cheonggyecheon linear park has now changed the movement of people, which resulted in the change in business environment along the stream as well. The business types have changed accordingly from ironmongery, electronics and other daily utilities to cafes, restaurants and high-end shops. More planning moves are explicit on the axis perpendicular to the river instead.

gwansugyo bridge
Gwansugyo separating pedestrian and road traffic (Source: The Seoul Guide)

Reference:
1. Jung, In-ha. 2013. Architecture and urbanism in modern Korea. Honolulu: University of Hawai’I Press.
2. Re:streets. N.d. Cheong Gye Cheon Stream Restoration. Accessed on 16 December 2015 from http://www.restreets.org/case-studies/cheong-gye-cheon-stream-restoration
3. Ribadeau-Dumas, H., Perez, L., Jon, I., Mouton, M., Penna, C., Zondi, N. and Guillet, C. 2012. Restoring nature in the urban fabric: the ambiguities of the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project.

Image reference:
1. http://lookatkorea.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/cheonggyecheon-seoul-english-map.jpg
2. http://www.theseoulguide.com/sights/public-spaces/cheonggyecheon-stream/gwansugyo-bridge/

2 Comments on “Seoul / Reshaping the Streetscape (III): Bridging North and South

  1. I appreciate that the merits and implications of the Cheonggye Expressway in facilitating pedestrian and vehicle circulation are clearly stated in this post.

    Bridges are urban elements connecting different parts of the city. The Cheonggye Expressway,in this case, is connecting the northern and southern part of Seoul. Since the 22 bridges varies in length and use, it would be interesting to learn more about how the bridges are designed for the different sessions along Cheonggyecheon and how they are responding to the urban fabric.

    • The Cheonggye Expressway indeed had a great urban implication before its demolition in 2003. It bridged the city’s Central Business District (West to the Cheonggye Plaza now) to the Eastern downtown part of Seoul. However, after its demolition, the 22 new bridges form a new traffic movement in the city along the north-south axis. They show different qualities in their design, for instance, pedestrian bridges such as Naraegyo are designed with more curved form as it has a higher flexibility in design. On the other hand, bridges that are recovered from historic ones have a more modest appearance with concrete or stone being the main material. They are paved with ancient patterns to revisualize their historic significance to the pedestrians. The bridges also vary in width to accommodate specific traffic conditions at different points along Cheonggyecheon.

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