US Yongsan base to be transformed into park
By Yun Suh-young
The U.S. military base in Yongsan, Seoul, will be handed over to Korea in 2016 and turned into an ecological culture park by 2020.
The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs announced Monday that a design by a Dutch landscaping company in consortium with a Korean firm won the design contest for the park.
The winning design, “Healing — the Future Park,” was submitted by West 8, a Dutch landscaping firm, in consortium with Iroje, a Korean architecture company. Famed architects Adriaan Geuze from West 8 and Seung Hyo-sang from Iroje collaborated.
“We particularly appreciated the overall framework of the project as well as its relationship to the local urban surroundings. We believe this project can evolve with expertise of the local community and adapt to deeper cultural values,” said Christophe Girot, a professor of landscaping at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and chairman of the nine-person jury who evaluated the work.
The park will be constructed on a site stretching over 2.43 square kilometers of land, twice the size of Seoul Forest (1.16 square kilometers) and slightly smaller than Yuldong Park (2.63 square kilometers) located in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province.
The site in which Yongsan Park will be constructed used to be a residential area for the Japanese during the late Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) and served as barracks for the Japanese military during the Japanese colonial period. It then became the military base for the U.S. army after Korea’s liberation.
The park will still retain its history with stone posts placed at key points where the landmark buildings used to be. Facilities will be connected to places outside the park with bridges called Ojakgyo, known for connecting lovers in Korean fairy tales. The park will also link Mt. Nam and the Han River at six different zones - an ecological axis park, cultural heritage park, gateway park, world culture park, amusement park, and production park.
The ministry plans to establish a basic plan for the construction by the end of 2014 after gathering opinions from the public starting this fall. Construction is expected to start in 2017 to be completed for public use from 2020.