Transformative Intervention

Urbanism Studio - Savannah College of Art and Design

Design Partners: Emily Hammond, Sanket Shroff, Dwija Navin

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The Cheonggyecheon Stream

The Cheonggyecheon was once covered by a major highway that ran through Seoul, South Korea. In 2003, the Seoul Metropolitan Government began an urban restoration project to uncover the river and restore it. The project was completed in two years. It removed the highway that spanned over the stream, restored water to the stream, and created a pedestrian pathway along its length.


The built environment extending the length of the Cheonggyecheon is split into three distinct districts: the financial/business district has characteristically tall buildings, the mixed use residential has high density, low height buildings, and the fashion/arts district is less dense with more distinct architecture. There are many, closely spaced bus and subway stations within the site, making public transportation a reliable option.

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Concept, Existing Problems & New Solutions

The existing project, while a successful start, did not address all issues within the site. Parts of the river, the bridges that cross it, and the surrounding urban fabric still suffer from disrepair. The Seungyo Bridge and surrounding buildings need an urban intervention to realize its full potential. Our project will revitalize the arcades, creating a flow through the site that generates continuity through the city.

On the Cheonggyecheon, each bridge has a specific identity and story that goes along with it. The Seungyo Bridge was meant to express the idea of light. Taking this idea, we chose to redesign the bridge to embrace both the idea of light and the form and flow of the stream.

The stream level of the site needed shaded areas, so a concept for a lightweight, translucent membrane canopy structure was developed. The canopy was designed to maintain the light feeling of the bridge, while still providing the necessary shade to make the site comfortable for pedestrians.

The bridge becomes a destination for the city, drawing people to the site. The roadway is narrowed to a single lane to slow traffic and widen the sidewalks, making the site more pedestrian focused. Vegetation adds a natural element to the site as well as helps clean and cool the air. Vertical circulation intersects with horizontal circulation to provide access to all parts of the site.

The three levels - stream, street, and bridge - are based off of the scale of the human body to make it relate-able to users. The shades on the bridge provide a cool and convenient place to walk, and increased lighting illuminates the space at night. Many benches are provided to allow pedestrians to stop and rest. The conglomeration of all these elements creates a highly dense area that can provide for the needs of all users.

The arcades located to the north and south of the stream need to be redesigned in order to turn them into functional, usable spaces. Green space, the flow of the stream, and connection to the city as a whole are the basis for the design.

At the project’s completion, the site is transformed. Redevelopment of the north and south arcades prove to be effective in creating and demonstrating interactive public spaces while creating visual connections to the surrounding urban fabric, while remaining connected and accented by the development of the Seungyo Bridge. The newly developed twin pedestrian bridges successfully create visual cues and destinations, linking together the remaining micro-destinations throughout the site through the use of the undulating canopy system.

Design Issus & Solutions