Seoul’s amazing stream restoration project.

One of the places I, like many people interested in environmental sustainability, always wanted to see was Cheonggyecheon Stream in South Korea’s capital Seoul.

The Cheonggyecheon stream was formed during the Joseon Dynasty in order to provide drainage for the city. It lasted for hundreds of years until the 1940s, when the city became so populated that a shanty town popped up around the stream and began polluting the area. The stream was gradually covered over with concrete, and by the 1970s  it was totally buried beneath a busy downtown highway.

In 2005, as part of a vast urban renewal project, the highway was removed and the stream was recovered and turned into a beautiful 5.8 km long urban park.

The Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project took two years and cost around $281 million, but it has created a thriving stretch of green public space in the middle of the city.

What was once a dividing line between the north and south parts of the city has been recreated as an urban park that bridges the gap and brings people together. Over 75% of the material torn down from the old highway was reused to construct the park and rehabilitate the stream. Now fish, bird and insects have made their way back into the urban river, and the area surrounding the park is about 3.6 deg C cooler than other parts of the city.

In addition to the restoration project, Seoul has also implemented transportation planning, rerouting traffic through other corridors and adding more public transportation. As a result there has been a decrease in the number of vehicles entering the city and bus and subway use has increased.

Here are some photos before and now.

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4 Responses to Seoul’s amazing stream restoration project.

  1. Paula Amaral says:

    What a wonderful recovery.

  2. janinemarshall says:

    Amazing! Looks so beautiful and tranquil.
    Would love to visit it myself!
    Looks like your having a ball Brad, well deserved 🙂

  3. freoishome says:

    The e2 Series did a review of this, I may have sent you the link a year or so ago when the series was on SBS.

    I am really pleased you took the opportuntiy to see it first hand. If I remember rightly from the e2 tv programme, to the disbelief of all the skeptics, removing the concrete freeway didn’t create any of the traffic dramas they predicted, in fact quite the contrary, without it, traffic was improved. Partly because in their thousands the people chose different routes and different means of transport, eg, public transport!


  4. freoishome says:

    Geraldine Doogue ABC Radio Nation Saturday Extra, was obviously in Seoul at the same time doing a similar tour as you. Were you part of the same group?
    You might like to listen to the online or repeat on Saturady this evening. She has several other insightful interviews with Asian academics about other big pictures issues such as Australia’s place in the world as a Asian neighbour.

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