Award-winners to learn from Korean restoration project

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2007, 12:00am

Winners of this year's planning awards will be sent to South Korea to learn from the restoration of a stream that is flowing through the heart of Seoul again after being covered for a decade by a highway.

Tam Po-yiu, chairman of organisers for the Hong Kong Institute of Planners Awards, said the Cheonggyecheon scheme was completed in two years.

Hwang Kee-yeon, a planning researcher at Seoul's Hongik University, said the 8km stream was originally a small brook but was enlarged in 1412 by King Taejong of the Joseon dynasty.

By the 1950s it was severely contaminated by Korean war refugees living in shanties lining its banks. Officials decided to cover the stream with a road 6km long and up to 80 metres wide.

But the air pollution was serious, and the highway had structural problems which would have cost 100 billion won (HK$843.5 million) to fix, so the government decided in 2003 to go ahead with the restoration. When the stream came alive in 2005, the average temperature of the city was reduced by 3.6 degrees Celsius.