Recently, I returned from Seoul, the capital of South Korea, where I saw and became inspired by Cheonggye-cheon, a 11km stream running across the busy city center since 2005.
Built 5m below the street-level, it is a serene walk with crystal clear water, beautiful bridges, sculptures, murals, graceful fountains and elegant community gardens. It is a remarkable example of public art.
Blending gentrification, art and ecology, it’s great idea is to reconnect the urban environment with nature. With half of the world’s population now living in towns, this is a creative, social and cultural intervention in a battle between man and the horrors of post-industrial urbanisation. Its authors are a collaborative hybrid of artists, architects, gardeners, engineers and even the city administration.
After attracting initial criticism for wasting being a waste of public resources, Cheonggye’s impact on quality of life of its visitors, their sense of well-being, has been truly phenomenal.
Alla Tkachuk is the founder of MASK, school for creativity and innovation, and the Mask Prize, creativity competition supported by The Star.