Gwanghwamun Square, the center of Seoul, will be newly changed. This project is to solve the pre-existed problem in Gwanghwamun. The Seoul Metropolitan Government selected “Deep Surface: Wake Up the Past and Future” as the winner of the International Design Competition for the Restructuring of Gwanghwamun Square. This project is made by a team including Kim Young-min, professor of department of landscape architecture at University of Seoul.
According to the Seoul Metropolotan Government, the reason for “Deep Surface” was given as its name is because there are deep layers of history at Gwanghwamun Square. With this paradoxical name, Gwanghwamun Square will become a place of linking daily and non-daily life and be reborn as a true symbolic place of not only Seoul but also Korea.
The competition was held in October 2018 to get ideas of reconstruction from citizens. The “Deep Surface” was elected among 70 teams from 17 countries. And it also got unanimous vote by the judging committee consisting of seven experts from home and abroad. The reason of selection was for its design which emphasizes the nature and history of Seoul.
Currently, Gwanghwamun square is referred to as “huge median strip”. The reason this nickname was given is that the current Gwanghwamun Square looks like a kind of island located in the middle of lanes in both sides. This causes not only a significant risk of passage but also a large traffic jam. As such, this reconstruction is believed to solve these problems.
The historical square and the civic square will be formed to play a role in preserving and developing the history of Seoul. For the historical square, the Woldae (place where the king and citizens used to communicate, in English) which was damaged in Japanese colonial era will be reconstructed. Also, Haechi (an animal in a Korean legend that distinguishes good from evil, in English) sculpture will be moved to its original place. For the civic square, the city will create a wider area by reorganizing roads and linking underground space with ground space.
However, since Gwanghwamun has become the commemorating place for our democracy, where people gather and fight for their opinions, the changes should be made after a thorough discussion. Right now, Seoul city is holding panel discussion to reflect some requests from the citizens. With this effort, the Gwanghwamun project could have a positive impact on Gwanghwamun Square and the future of Seoul.