Major greening of Seoul announced by Mayor Oh
Seoul's reputation as a hastily built, uninspired concrete jungle may be endangered as its mayor calls for a green makeover that allows skyscrapers and forests to coexist.
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon unveiled a vision dubbed the Green Urban Space Recreation Strategy on Thursday.
“I have a dream; and that dream is a city where all Seoul citizens can stroll around the downtown and everything they see is trees and forests,” Oh said during a press briefing Thursday at Sewoon Hall in Sewoon Plaza, Jongno District, central Seoul. “And anywhere they go, there are clothes shops, hair salons, and mobile phone shops.
“Why is it hard to find such a well equipped downtown area in Seoul, in Gangnam?"
Oh continued, "That is because the urban planning was wrong since the city was created,” adding, “Seoul's long-stalled downtown needs new directions and strategies to overcome the limits of existing policies.”
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, only 3.7 percent of the total area of Seoul is parks and green spaces. Even when including palaces, the rate is only 8.5 percent. This is significantly lower than other metropolises around the world, considering that 26.8 percent of Manhattan is green space and 14.6 percent of Central London.
The city’s aim is to ease current building regulations, such as the building height limit of no higher than 90 meters (295 feet) and floor area ratios ― the ratio of a building's total floor area to the size of the land upon which it stands — of no larger than 600 percent. By allowing buildings to go higher, more areas can be set aside as parks and green areas, and eventually increase the city’s green rate by more than four times to at least 15 percent.
“The 90-meter height limit is fully capable of being lifted up to 110 meters or 150 meters,” Oh said. “This is not much deregulation; it is just restoring what has been tied up during the past decade.”
Oh added, “If we lower the building-to-land ratio, increase the floor area ratio and lift the height limit, a huge amount of land will be returned for citizens.”
In addition, Seoul plans to create at least one park on each block and connect the parks with green pedestrian passages.
Once that project is completed, Seoul expects about 140,000 square meters of parks and green spaces to be created, which is more than four times Yeontral Park or the Gyeongui Line Forest Park ― created in homage to Central Park in New York — located in the neighborhood of Hongdae. This will complete Seoul's symbolic green corridor connecting Mount Bugak via Jongmyo and Namsan to the Han River, the city explained.
For already-redeveloped areas, such as Gwanghwamun through Seoul City Hall, the city government will use so-called three-dimensional greening of buildings, or adding plants to structures.
Areas with special characters such as villages with Hanok (traditional Korean houses) or Insadong and Myeongdong will have pedestrianized streets or green spaces where people can rest.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]