The Oil Tank Culture Park Of Your Apocalyptic Dreams
A plot of land sitting across from World Cup Stadium and my favorite parks system, the World Cup Parks, has been dubiously under construction for the many years that I’ve lived in the area.
While there probably was info somewhere on what it was going to be, it always looked suspect with the large oil tanks that sat overlooking the area. Little did I know those oil tanks were going to be super appealing once through their urban reformation.
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The entire area is actually an urban renewal dreamers heaven.
The World Cup Parks sit on land that was once a pretty gigantic landfill. It took seven years to transform the area into five distinct parks with ponds, overlooks, meta-sequoia lined lanes and more. From basketball courts to soccer fields, bike paths, walking lanes and camp grounds, there is truly something for everyone in this immaculately curated and cared for area of the city. Not to get off topic, but it’s a park that is missed out on by many and really shouldn’t be. Check out this complete guide to the parks and don’t miss a visit when you head to the culture park.
Now adding to the area, the land that was once the Mapo Oil Depot and was used as storage for petroleum from 1976 until 2000 has been transformed into the Oil Tank Culture Park (문화비축기지). The culture park is actually ten times larger than Seoul Plaza and will be used to promote eco-friendly ecosystems and culture. This park is part of the ongoing urban renewal projects that are taking place around the city of Seoul and include stops like Seollo 7017, the overpass turned park, Seonyudo Park, the Han River island that was once a water treatment plant but is now a park with so much to see, and the West Seoul Lake Park, once a water purification plant now a cool park to walk around.
The newest addition to the reformation and reclamation push in the capital of Korea is really cool and will definitely be featured on Instagram accounts all over pretty soon. There are 6 tanks on the grounds and each is being used differently. Since it just opened on September 1st, when I visited with Arielle from Soju4Two, we found it pretty desolate and just the way we like it with open doors and few people getting in our photos. The industrial facades that are gradually being overgrown give that apocalyptic appeal with just the right amount of modern detail.
Seriously, we headed in to Tank 5 to find doors open but lights turned off. A staff member, or groundskeeper possibly, came up, switched on the lights and asked that we just switch them back off when we exited.
This gave us the confidence to head into the wide very dark open space of Tank 4 and nonchalantly flip on the lights which made for a gorgeously fun echo space.
Admittedly, when we first walked up to the tank and the doors opened automatically and all we could see was darkness, we jumped back wondering what the heck the space even was. It wasn’t until we entered a side door after walking around the outer perimeter, that we found the light switches and decided we couldn’t get into that much trouble for turning them on. Definitely walk in and around, up and over wherever you can. Anything that is dangerous has been blocked off accordingly so if it’s not blocked off, take a gander and enjoy the cement walls that are covered in moss, the tree that has pushed its way through the cement outer casing of one of the tanks and the vines that are taking over wherever they can.
Tank 2 has been set up to serve as an outdoor amphitheater and is really just beautiful the way it’s planned. Concrete stepping stones are here and there to be used as seats are maybe tables in between a couple with a wall of green vines cascading behind. The acoustics are really on point too and I can say that with confidence as when we approached and rounded the corner, we found a trio of altos practicing some pretty beautiful hymns.
The notes soared and you wouldn’t have even known from the side walk as we didn’t hear it until we came around the bend.
Tank 3 is being kept as is and currently houses a ton of spiders and spider webs so I wouldn’t recommend even stopping in that one!
Tank 1 is a multipurpose pavilion made of glass and currently houses a part of the Design Festival. We couldn’t get into this one as they were just closing the area when we walked up. But do check it out to learn more about design and other places in Seoul to check out. Tank 6 is the largest and the newest. It was rebuilt and will serve as the information center and also houses a cafe on the bottom floor.
The entire park has been designed to maximize energy in an efficient manner and uses geothermal energy for cooling and heating. There is also a 30 ton water processing facility in the basement of tank 6 that will purify the waste water from the restrooms and there is a 300 ton rainwater recycling facility to store and collect the water for landscaping. The park is very unique and there are events lined up through the end of the year from the Design Festival to the Marche@ Artisan’s Market on September 16th and more. Check it out and have fun. It’s worth a little trip and then cross the street to enjoy the World Cup Parks too. Since it’s autumn, head up to Haneul Park RIGHT across the intersection where the reeds will be waving in the wind this time of year.
Oil Tank Culture Park (문화비축기지)
Address: 661 Seongsan-dong Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea
서울특별시 마포구 성산동 661
Amenities: cafe, restrooms, parking (limited to about 50 spaces or less)