Seoul, a city better known for its skyscrapers, is reinventing underground spaces by bringing in sunlight. An underground garden filled with natural light will be set up at Jonggak Station, subway line 1, in downtown Seoul by October, the city government announced on Tuesday.
Natural light will be channeled into space through eight light-collecting dishes poking out of the garden on posts set up at Jongno Tower Square, located right above it. The collected light will be redirected underground along the tube by a system of mirrors. As the tubes will be transparent, people will be able to see how the mirrors send light underground from the square.
A special ceiling composed of anodized aluminum panels will help reflect and disperse this light through the garden. LED light fixtures will substitute sunlight at night or on rainy days.
This natural lighting will sustain the plants that will cover around one-sixth of the underground space. The city is considering planting species that grow well in the shade as well as fruit trees that require ample sunlight.
This is not the first time a city tried to light up its subterranean spaces in this way. New York is building the world’s first underground park using over 100 light-collecting and redirection tubes. Also known as “lens irrigation,” this lighting system is more energy-efficient than using solar panels or electricity-powered light sources.
In between the green patches, small areas will be carved out to host community events like concerts, meetings, and even yoga classes. The stairs located on either side of the space will be converted into bleachers-type seating.
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The city government hopes the unique garden will give some breathing space for its urban dwellers.
“We hope the garden can provide a space for workers and citizens passing through Jonggak Station to unwind in nature,” said Kim Hak-jin, a city official heading the project. “This project, bringing in natural light to an idle space underground, will become a leading example of urban regeneration and innovative ecological space.”
The garden will be used for various activities for the public, including a guided tour by a botanist.
The plans for this latest urban garden project were drawn up by a small architecture firm called Urban Index Lab. Construction for the garden is expected to start next February and end in October next year.
Source: The Korea Times, Seoul