Daylighting to Improve the City and the Environment

Streams and rivers can be central attractions of a city. They can be beautiful, vibrant public places where people can enjoy the company of others while also enjoying the peace and calm of nature. They can also provide peaceful and aesthetically pleasing transportation corridors for bicyclists, roller-bladers, skateboarders, pedestrians and others.

For these reasons, daylighting is becoming an increasingly popular tool among urban planners and landscape architects.

What is daylighting?

It is bringing a stream to light (from underground). Often, it is a stream that has been covered by former urban development.

Daylighting can have tremendous and varied benefits — ecological, economic, engineering, and social. One prime example of daylighting is in Seoul, South Korea where engineers recently transformed a freeway into a beautiful stream and public space.

Image Credit: Justin Adams Seoul stream daylighted and turned into a beautiful public space

Seoul stream daylighted and turned into a beautiful public space

In 2003, Seoul completely demolished a downtown freeway in order to daylight an ancient stream. The city then re-used about 75% of the scrap metal from the demolition to rebuild the stream banks and also create a commercial corridor. The result is a public space masterpiece and major tourist attraction.

Seoul is not the only place that has successfully daylighted streams, of course. For more detail on daylighting in Kansas, Mississippi, California, New York, Virginia, Washington, and other places in the US, take a look at this great report on urban stream daylighting.

If you like this idea, go to your own city or county planning department and see if there are any plans or possibilities for daylighting in your area.