The replacement of a vast motorway by a restored river and park proves what is possible with vision.
“The demolition of a vast motorway through the centre of South Korea’s capital and the restoration of a river and park in its place proves that mega-cities can be changed for the better” reads the introduction to an article published on the Environment Guardian website today. The article, Heart and soul of the city, marks the official first anniversary of the completion of this £201m restoration project.
There is no doubt that this is an immense improvement and its significance as an example of what can be achieved in dense urban areas with the right vision cannot be under-estimated. However, although the terms restoration and naturalisation are often used synonymously, many of the numerous pictures that accompany the Cheonggye Stream article on the Life in Korea website illustrate the difference. For much (most?) ot its length the stream appears to be bounded by artificial banks or concrete walkways and it resembles a canal rather more than a river. And in some locations features have been added that certainly couldn’t be considered to be widllife-friendly! Is this too harsh a judgment? Look for yourself and make up your own mind.