Appraisal of the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project and Its Environs in Seoul, South Korea

Although well known in Korean and East Asian urban design and planning circles, the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project had not received independent appraisal from the outside and not much attention in the West. Moreover, Cheonggyecheon and its environs appeared to embody a complex and complete set of issues present among similar undertakings, quite apart from its unique contributions to Seoul, South Korea. Following on from waterfront redevelopments, urban stream and river restorations have been moving to the fore as venues for improving cities’ amenities and reaching pressing environmental conservation objectives. Already in East Asia, there are a number of examples, including the Funanhe and Shahe in Chengdu, China, and Otagawa in Hiroshima, Japan. In short, The Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, that opened in Seoul in 2005, formed a useful case study of this emerging phenomenon.

Conduct of this appraisal took the form of Faculty Research Seminar at the Harvard Graduate School of Design during the Spring term of 2010. This was followed by a summer of further work. The resulting monograph; A City and Its Stream: The Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project was published by the Seoul Development Institute in 2010.

Sponsored by the Seoul Development Institute