Seoul highway-turned-park: 5 other instances of adaptive reuse

Once a section of elevated railway track, the High Line park is one of the best-known examples of adaptive reuse. VIDEO:YOUTUBE/FRANCESCO BOLLORINO
Opened in 2015 after extensive renovations and restoration, the National Gallery Singapore once saw dramatic court cases in its previous incarnation as Singapore's Supreme Court up till 2005. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Opened in 2015 after extensive renovations and restoration, the National Gallery Singapore once saw dramatic court cases in its previous incarnation as Singapore's Supreme Court up till 2005. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The city of Seoul in Korea will open its first highway-turned-park, Seoullo 7017, on Saturday (May 20).

The park stretches for about 1km and links seven surrounding areas, including Seoul Station and Namdaemun Market, to 12 pedestrian walkways, reported the Korea Herald on Wednesday.

The park's opening will be marked with the unveiling of Shoes Tree, a 17m-tall art installation made of over 30,000 worn-out shoes, each with flower seeds planted inside.

The brainchild of environmental artist Hwang Ji Hae, visitors will be able to hang their own shoes on the installation on opening day.

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Seoullo 7017 is an example of adaptive reuse, which is the conversion of disused infrastructure and buildings for new purposes beyond their original intention.

Here are five more examples of adaptive reuse worldwide:

1. High life on the High Line

New York's High Line park, which is built on the elevated frame of a disused railway line, is widely held to be the poster child of adaptive reuse.

Consisting of three sections that opened between 2009 and 2014, the park runs from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues - a distance of about 2.3km.

The High Line was first mooted in 1999 by two nearby residents that advocated reopening the railway line as a publicly accessible open space.

The park currently features numerous green spaces and allows a scenic, leisurely walk between any of its 12 entrances.

Seoul authorities cited the High Line as one of the chief inspirations for Seoullo 7017.

2. Tapping on a billboard to change lives

Facing flagging enrolment in 2013, Peru's University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) erected a billboard that has changed the lives of its surrounding community.

Part of a publicity campaign by UTEC to promote interest in science, equipment in the billboard in Lima's Bujama district is able to condense airborne water vapour into 96 litres of free, potable liquid water a day.

Stored in tanks, residents and passers-by access the water from a faucet at the billboard's base.

3. Life off the rails


The United Kingdom's National Railway Museum features a cargo train station repurposed as a museum space featuring real trains and railway memorabilia. PHOTO: MICHAEL TAYLOR

In the United Kingdom, a dizzying array of decommissioned trains lie in repose at one of the halls in York's National Railway Museum, which holds the largest collection of trains and railway memorabilia in the world.

Station Hall has all the trappings of a large railway station - the wide platforms, tall ceilings and even life-sized tracks - with good reason.

It used to be the city's main cargo train station from the 1870s till the 1960s, before being converted into a museum space in 1990.

4. Art holds court in National Gallery

Back home, Singapore's National Gallery used to be the Supreme Court until 2005. Opened in November 2015 after extensive restoration and renovation, the gallery is said to have the largest collection of South-east Asian art worldwide.

Works from top regional artists such as Vietnamese lacquer master Nguyen Gia Tri adorn the museum's walls.

5. Mission: Save marine mammals


The Marine Mammal Centre in California is built on the grounds of what used to be Fort Cronkhite, an anti-aircraft missile launch facility. Two missile silos have been converted into a water recycling system and research library respectively. PHOTO: MARINE MAMMAL CENTRE

The Marine Mammal Centre in Sausalito, California has occupied what used to be Fort Cronkhite, an anti-aircraft missile launch facility decommissioned in the early 1970s, since 1975.

Running counter to its original intent, the repurposed launch facility rescues and treats ill, injured and orphaned marine mammals before returning them to the wild.

Even the underground missile silos have not been spared: one silo now houses water recycling equipment and the other, a research library that houses animal specimens.