Landscaping of the Cheonggyecheon Waterway in Seoul


The project focuses on the Cheonggyecheon waterway, a narrow and long stream that cuts downtown Seoul.

The project started with an analysis of the use of public space in Seoul. Within the city this is generally completely invaded by a large number of cars that create strong pedestrian intervals(westernization) whilst,  in the alleys the invasion of public space takes place through the activities of citizens and their customs(tradition).

The keystone of the intervention was to widen the banks whilst also enlarging the water-area to create a natural and more suitable framework which would host all the activities carried out in the unhealthy alleys. Above the channel, fast lanes for electric vehicles and bicycles were created whilst streets were lifted nearby the crosswalks, establishing an urban layer at the ground and ‘trafficked’ first floor. As such, greater fluidity was also guaranteed to crosswalks and more spaces to invade/inhabit were created.

The project speculates on  a near future when the metropolis will be ready to reduce the use of automobiles, allowing for these causeways (lifted streets) to become additional spaces to inhabit and as living green areas.

The Design communicates the characteristic elements of the project: a soft, harmonious and natural atmosphere where simple, linear and clean structures are in balance with the landscape.

The language of representation develops in a similar simple manner with additional mediums as that of video to reinforce aspects of movement whilst reinforcing the sensations of the project.

We need to listen to nature, to connect to the landscape, not to overpower it with large objects because this attitude of listening creates the right relationship between people, the society they belong to, nature and the cosmos.


Who influences you graphically?

Inspiration is the result of a continuous research within a variety of different fields. Within the realm of painting I am interested in how Henri Rousseau paints ‘fictional’ vegetation,  how Hoppers’ hushed atmosphere. Furthermore, I have always had a great interest in Asian drawings, in particular ancient Korean drawings such as those of Chusengongbu and Gia Hongdo. I am also amazed by the clarity and accuracy of the details in the designs of Bow-Bow atelier and the compositions of Viar Estudio.

What defined the animation as medium through which you articulate and develop the drawings?

When I finished the final images of the project I was very satisfied with the result, although I aimed at giving ‘more’. I pondered on the possibility of conveying dynamism through movements and sounds avoiding the effect of the change of sequences and movements of the classic video. I wanted to perceive the atmosphere experienced embedded in the project without losing the idea of a “window” on the landscape of the images as framed in a white background.

After all, we live in a society that is fast, lazy and constantly stimulated by images that move on our smartphones and computers. Viedeo has become a powerful means of communication, able to draw our interest, to reach a wider audience thanks to its passive reading.

What dictated the format and materiality of the book? Could you talk about the design of this ‘object’ in relation to the project?

The book also has elements that connected it to the project. For example, the square layout refers to the shape of the modules used to compose the structures containing the functions. Through the perforated cover, the illustration of the vegetation is visible on the first page just as if the observer was inside the structures to watch the vegetation through the plot of horizontal strips appropriately spaced from each other. Similarly to vegetation image which completes the book when it is closed, the vegetation insertions around the structures complete the view of the interior walls from inside.

The choice of wood was made to ‘impress’ the sensations of the visitor through touch. Touching it one perceive the roughness, the imperfection and the naturalness of the wood that inevitably refers to the nature of the project.

How important was the initial part of research for the project? How did the sketch as tool help you in transcribing the data obtained and observed?

Seoul is a particular city, it is going through a historical period between traditions and westernization. The initial study aimed to discover the use of the public space within the city. It was a very wide research from which I realized that tradition is still alive in the alleys. Obviously Korean habits have adapted to the current situation of the city; many of these public exchanges now take place along busy roads or otherwise in unhealthy situations. In general, public space is literally invaded by the activities of citizens. Therefore, I studied their habits to insert them in a new scenario giving the possibility to the inhabitants to live the city in a healthier way preserving their own traditions. The sketches that show some activities carried out by the inhabitants of Seoul were drawn by looking at real scenes of life in the city. For me the sketch was a tool to analyze the details and to reproduce my experience of the moment through the drawing. It also allowed me to represent the most salient aspects by eliminating the superfluous ones. By sketching I focused on every detail and it helped me to see the first impressions of the context and then to think about them to define the design choice.

What were the biggest challenges when developing and representing the design?

The greatest challenge was to create and represent “simplicity” both in the project and in the drawings. When I speak of simplicity I mean the “naturalness” that one perceives when looking at the project, as if the area had not been designed but existed in nature. Quoting Bruno Munari “complicating is easy, simplifying is difficult”. Indeed, it has been difficult to make this sensation by designing structures with a linear shape and undertaking an accurate selection of tree species. It is widely acknowledged that the only volumes in a project are the buildings, in reality each tree species has physical characteristics that allow it to have its own volume, intended as an occupied space, just like that of urban furniture or a building. Through the complex choice and the delicate positioning of the vegetation I managed to articulate the spaces in the design area protecting the feeling of simplicity. As such, in the drawings it was difficult to find the way to represent my design idea of a hushed and natural landscape without taking away information. In the graphics the greatest complexity was to choose the different details to include in the views. Nothing is left to chance: the guitarist, the disabled or the woman on a bike, the distance between the silhouettes, the plots of vegetation, the colors of light. Each detail is carefully chosen to communicate my goal.

What dictated the language of representation of the views compared to the simple lines of the sketch and axo?

For the study of public space and for the technical part- plants, sections, schemes, I wanted to treat the design in a clean manner, without strong signs that could divert the attention from the essentiality of the design. On the contrary, the final images freed from technicality are filled with colors and small details that excite the reader.


Giacomo Attardi is an architect and designer from Italy.  He studied Architecture in Rome and he then further specialized at Camerino School of Architecture and Design in Ascoli Piceno. In his projects he experiments with new connections between different disciplinary fields: architecture, visual communication, psychology, anthropology and new technologies.