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Oil Tank Culture Park

Development Type: Adaptive Reuse Development

Type Of Developer: Non-Profit

Start Year: 2015

Address: 87, Jeungsan-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea, 03914


Contributor: audex


Location Description
15minutes away from World Cup Stadium Station by walking 16 minutes away from World Cup Park by walking 13minutes away from Seoul World Cup Stadium by walking Located on top of the Han River and Nanji Hangang Park East side of the JTBC and North side of the Sky Park

Case Report


Oil Tank Culture Park is located in the Mapo District which is surrounded by the Maebong Mountain. Originally Oil Tank Culture Park was an oil reserve; it is one of the heritage sites from the age of industrialization. This oil reserve was built for providing oil to the citizens in Seoul in 1973. However, it had been stopped for more than 10 years since the safety issue due to the World Cup in 2002. Fortunately, it had found its purpose as a cultural center through the citizen idea contest hosted in 2013, and the Oil Tank Culture Park was created. The five tanks from the original building now became open cultural space and the steel plates from the dismantled tank reused to be a community center for citizens,

Development Info.

Development Scale: Building

Total Development Cost: 47,004,000,000₩

Total Land Area: 140,022㎡

Total Development Area: 5,324.61㎡

Area Type: Urban Area - Downtown/Central Business Area

Start Date: 2015/12/30

Opening Date: 2017/01/09

Planning Approval: Not Available

Lead Developer: 알오에이건축사사무소

Consultants: Not Available


Economic Context

The Oil shock that happened in 1973 influenced the creation of the Oil Tank Culture Park hugely. The Oil shock happened due to the Arab-Israeli Wars.  The oil price tripled just in three months. Therefore Seoul city needed to build the oil reserve for this incident. The oil reserve was consequently built on the southern slope of Maebongsan Mountain by excavating rocks. The oil reserve stored enough oil for the Seoul citizens to use for a month. The amount was approximately 400,000 barrels of oil. This economic incident gave birth to what is now the Oil Tank Culture Park.

Social Context

The Oil Tank Culture Park is a public space that is managed mainly by the local citizens. The need for public space was a trending issue by the time when the Oil Tank Culture Park started to be developed. The role of the urban park was expanding from just a resting place for citizens to a place also for active civic participation. The main policy of the Oil Tank Culture Park was influenced by this social change. It has the citizens' direct influence on the policy-making of the Oil Tank Culture Park. The citizens' participation in the operation and management of public spaces is increasing. Historically, this social context started in the United States in 1980 and slowly came into Korea. In Korea, this citizens participation in the urban park started with the ‘1사1산1하천’movement in 1991. The shift in the administrative paradigm is also significant to the Oil Tank Culture Park. The new rising administrative paradigm is the ‘Governance.’ The Governance is also called Public-Private Partnership. It is when the citizens' voluntary participation joins with the official administration. This was an action to move away from the state-centered bureaucracy.

Environmental Context

In November of 1998, Seoul city announced the ‘Basic Plan For Maintenance Around Seoul World Cup Stadium.’ Along with this announcement, the ‘Sangam New Millenium New City Basic Plan’ was initiated.  The main goal of this plan was to create an eco-friendly environment around the World Cup Stadium in 2002. The area was divided into 4 big regions: activity zones, environmental regeneration zones, natural ecology zones, and local facilities zones. Due to the 2002 World Cup, the Seoul state government decided to refurbish and relocate the nonconforming facilities. Consequently, the demolition of these facilities began in 1998.  While the demolition work was proceeding, the FIFA regulation categorized the Oil Reserve into a dangerous facility that is located within 500 meters of the World Cup Stadium. As a result, the Oil Reserve stopped working due to this safety issue and was officially closed on December 31th 2000.

Historical Context

The war between Syria, Israel, and Egypt that happened on October 6th, 1973 was significant to the Oil Tank Culture Park. This war began when Syria and Egypt suddenly attacked Israel. The consequence of the middle east war was the Oil war. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced to increase the oil price by 17% and reduce the production of oil by 5% every month. As the price continuously increased, the ‘First Oil Crisis’ occurred. To safely respond to the second oil crisis, the Oil Reserve was developed.

The Plan

Pre-planning Efforts

Oberhausen Gasometer, German. This study was used while developing the Oil Tank Culture Park because of the similarity in reusing the reserve tank. The Oberhausen Gasometer was used to be gas storage and now it is reused as an exhibition center. Ballest Point Park, Australia. This study was an oil production facility and now it is used as a waterfront park. Wunderland Kalkar, Germany. This study was a nuclear power plant and now it is a theme park. Noritake Garden, Japan. This development was a ceramic factory and now transformed into exhibition halls, experience centers, shopping centers, and parks. Wire Opera House, Brazil. This was a mine but now utilized as an opera house.

Vision Statement

To activate the oil reserve into a sustainable building that will appropriately fit into the oil phase-out generation, the oil tanks were decided to be transformed into cultural space. (

Goals and Objectives

Activate the ecological cultural park through culture tank and space and twelve- months festivals. Citizen-led operating model through cooperative governance committee, cooperative citizens, cultural round table conference, active citizen, emergence lab, etc. Living culture for the oil phase-out generation through providing a community space for sharing, planning, and producing a non-oil-based lifestyle. (

Issues and Problems

After the World Cup Stadium was established, the Oil Reserves was left abandoned. It had no purpose but was used only as a temporary parking lot from 2001 to 2005. After the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Sangam district planned to preserve the original form of the five oil tank facilities and transform them into a science park. However, this plan went to pieces. In 2003, the “Advanced Tent Theater Business Plan” was proposed, but again, it went unsuccessful. Along with the previous plans, the foundation of the digital cultural contents center and plan to build an exhibition and convention center for small and medium-sized businesses also failed. To solve the parking problem in Mapo district, the ‘Temporary parking lot for large vehicles’ plan was pushed ahead in 2006. About 19,636 ㎡ of the land area were being used as a temporary parking lot. Due to the ‘2030 Seoul Metropolitan Government Basic Plan,’ Sangnam district was part of the creative culture industry-centered region, and it needed to be developed into a tourist site or a building for cultural use. In 2012 July, Seoul's governance planned to utilize about 6,000㎡of the land area for archives management agency,  Han River Business Headquarters building, and public parking lot. However the argument on the land use allotment continued, and it needed an appropriate conclusion.

Benchmark Projects

Several cases were being referenced as benchmark projects. The Sky Tower in Yeosu acted as one of the benchmark projects. The Sky Tower was the cement silos and now it was transformed into an observatory, music performance, and exhibition facilities. The Sky Tower, which was used to be abandoned as cement storage, was reused into a pipe organ and seawater desalination facility due to its exterior characteristics. The way people reused this building inspired the Oil Tank Culture Park project on reusing the abandoned facility and giving a new meaning to the building by preserving the characteristics of the original site.

Public Engagement Strategy

The public engagement strategy is one of the main strategies for the Oil Tank Culture Park. The public engagement strategy was shown in the citizen idea contest. The citizen idea contest was divided into ‘normal citizen’ and ‘international student & specialist.’ The citizen idea contest was intended to increase the participation of the public in the Oil Tank Culture Park. The evaluation of the contest proceeded through 2 phases: the first evaluation is through the specialists and the second evaluation is through the online citizen vote. The specialists’ evaluation took up 80% and the online citizen vote took up 20% for the final decision. In total, 267 ideas were gathered and being evaluated. Through this citizen idea contest on how to reuse the oil reserve, the government was able to gather information on what kind of culture, education, experience citizens really need and want. Private experts were also engaged in the Oil Tank Culture Park for public engagement. The ‘citizen of cooperation’ was composed in order to prepare the opening and the management of the Oil Tank Culture Park. It is composed of 5 Seoul State office workers and 10 regular volunteer citizens. There are also Working Group and Planning Group. Working Group is the problem-solving type of public participants who gather to solve the problems on the management, research policy, space energy use, and so on. Within the Working Group,  it separates into seven small groups: citizen culture center, energy zero, local culture ecology, sustainable space, regional-linked travel, global cooperation international network, and Oil Tank Culture Park direction of development groups. They all have different tasks to solve. On the other hand, the Planning Group is the creative group that gathered to manage the vision and the objectives of the Oil Tank Culture Park. These people suggest and proceed with the festivals, openings, and plans.  These two groups are all normal people who volunteered to participate in the development of the Oil Tank Culture Park.

Financing Strategy

The Oil Tank Culture Park was not meant to create financial profit but to provide a public place for public participation with the minimum cost. Part of the financial strategy is from the space rental. Since the Oil Tank Culture Park is composed of seven tanks in total, every tank is available for rent at different costs. The rental costs range from 1,570 ~ 508,928₩. Other than the space rental, the cafeteria also creates financial profit. The overall financial profit of the Oil Tank Culture Park is exclusive to the facility.

Existing Community and Residents

The Oil Tank Culture Park project was intended to be a linkage system with the existing community such as the World Cup Stadium, Peace Park, Sky Park, etc. It was also targeted to strengthen the network with the Sangam Nanji Area to form an area with a strong characteristic. The Mebongsan trail surrounds the Oil Tank Culture Park. To optimize the engagement with the residents who use the Mebongsan trail, the Oil Tank Culture Park designed a new trail that connects to the existing trail. Through the topography analysis, grounds near Tank 1 and Tank 5 had a less steep slope which made it easier to create the connection trail with the Mebongsan trail. The existing community already had parking lots provided. For example, the World Cup Stadium had 537 spaces, inside the World Cup park had 1,837 spaces. But they were not for the residents’ use. The Oil Tank Culture Park planned to provide a parking lot for the residents living nearby. The objective of the Oil Tank Culture Park was the intimate connection with the existing community. Therefore, the Oil Tank Culture Park considered implant an exhibition for promoting the entire region. The Oil Tank Culture Park dealt with the locals by creating spaces for cultural activities that can be enjoyed with the local communities and the local economies altogether.

Phasing Strategy

There were four main phase strategies: Basic planning, mid-to-long term business direction planning, Design competition guidelines, and operation and implementation planning. The basic planning contains the objective goals, studies on the existing cases, creating the development scale validation, and initiating introductory function. This stage of planning was developed by communicating with the citizens. The mid to long-term business direction planning worked with the phased development plans and long-term development initiatives. The design competition guideline developed on the design directions and goals of the Oil Tank Culture Park and the specific guidance for participating in the competition. At last, the operation and implementation planning phase includes the development of the management plan and the international operation plan.

The Master Plan

The main physical elements are the rock incision paper, concrete retaining wall, and the existing oil tanks. The concrete walls protect the outer part of the tanks and they are combined with the front shield wall. The tank itself was meant to be a sculpture and the territory that separates the inside and the outside. The strategy on the physical characteristics and on maintaining the architecture is that no weatherproof steel sheets will be used in the Oil Tank Culture Park. The strategy is to show the corrosion without preventing it over time. Tank number 6 is the newly built building in the Oil Tank Culture Park. The design strategy for this architecture is by relocating the existing tank into Tank6. It used the newly constructed glass walls and roof. Inside the glassed tank, the audience could look up at the sky and observe the flow of the time.

Land Uses and Programs

CultureTank is composed of 7 tanks (7Ts). T0 is the Culture Yard where large-scaled festivals or markets are opened. T1 is the Glass Pavilion where exhibitions and workshops are being used. Originally, it was the space for reserving gasoline. T2 is the Stage where outdoor and indoor stages are located. Originally, it was the space for reserving diesel. T3 is the Sustained Oil Tank where the original tank shape was preserved completely. T4 is the Culture Complex where cultural communication such as exhibition and experience programs are located. T5 is the Story Hall where the history of the CultureTank is being exhibited. T6 is the Community Center, which is newly built by using T1 and T2, is used for conference rooms, lecture halls, offices, and so on. A diverse program is held in the Oil Tank Culture Park. Through the citizen program contest that was held from 2017/03/16~2017/03/31, citizens were able to suggest different kinds of programs they want from the development. Approximately 40 individuals and groups participated and more than 82 programs were submitted. As time passed, more and more programs were developed. Among these programs, public marker, body playground, cultural festival, exploration, ecological cycle, cultural partnership, place-specific art are the most famous programs.  

Timeline or Milestones

The basic conception and master plan were finalized from March to April, 2013. International architectural competition contest initiated from May to August, 2014. The PETRO: READING THE STORY OF THE SITE won the architectural competition on August 25th, 2014. An architectural advisory committee with 11 experts in every field was composed on September 29th, 2014. Initiated the basic and implementation design services on October 8th, 2014. The Working Group of the Oil Tank Culture Park was composed on November 10th, 2014. Mapo residents’ briefing session was held on March 18th, 2015. The basic design of the Oil Tank Culture Park was completed on April 10th, 2015. The urban planning facilities such as a park, green areas were determined on May 28th, 2015. The design of the implementation was completed on August 20th, 2015. The construction of the Oil Tank Culture Park was initiated on December 20th, 2015. The opening of the Oil Tank Culture Park on December 30th, 2017.

Current Status

The Oil Tank Culture Park is located in the South-North part of Seoul, and it is one of the presentative urban parks in Seoul. Through the Sangam new millennium city plan, the CultureTank is surrounded by Sky Park, Nanji Hangang Park, Noeul Park, and Peace Park. It is located in an area where individuals and groups of people can interact easily with each other. The Oil Tank Culture Park is managed by the Oil Tank Culture Park management office that has a total of 10 office workers. Even Though the officers are working at the Oil Tank Culture Park, the management policy stated that the management will be oriented along with the citizens.

Lessons Learned

What is the most important take away from this case?

In my personal opinion, the most important takeaway is how the Oil Tank Culture Park interacts with the existing community. Through the studies on the Oil Tank Culture Park, lots of thoughtful considerations were done on the communication with the citizens. The consideration was dissolved from the beginning of the Oil Tank Culture Park project to the end and until now. At the beginning of the project, the idea and the programs were all selected and done by the citizens. This intention was a clever approach because eventually, it will be the citizens who will use the Oil Tank Culture Park. The architectural design also intended to melt into the existing community. The way the Oil Tank Culture Park designed the walking trails and connected them to the Mebongsan Mountain was contemplative. In this way, locals naturally participate with the Oil Tank Culture Park. Currently, all the festivals, exhibitions, and management were done by the citizens. Citizens know what they want and need. The mixing tasks were appropriately shared between these two groups.

Why is this case relevant today and for whom?

The Oil Tank Culture Park was a reuse project. Nowadays more and more buildings are being developed, and this also means more and more buildings are being abandoned. We can easily find that many existing facilities are not being used properly. I think the existing buildings that are not being used properly should reference the Oil Tank Culture Park project. Building reuse might take much more effort instead of creating a new one. But preserving the old building saves energy and its historical values.

Which strategy was proved to be successful?

One of the main goals of the Oil Tank Culture Park is citizen participation. The Oil Tank Culture Park managed to use the governance and citizen participation strategy. With the research done on the Oil Tank Culture Park and the visit to the project, I can conclude that the Oil Tank Culture Park project did a good job on this strategy. Most of the people who work for the Oil Tank Culture Park were volunteer workers. And the office at the Oil Tank Culture Park was for the normal citizens. Due to the fact that the Oil Tank Culture Park is managed by citizens, I felt much comfortable visiting the site. This is probably because of the less rigid environment at the Oil Tank Culture Park. I also paid more attention to the volunteer work; I felt that I also could be part of the Oil Tank Culture Park member.

In your opinion, what could have improved this project?

The promotion for the Oil Tank Culture Park was not enough. I did not know about the Oil Tank Culture Park before this study. Oil Tank Culture Park has its special value and is well managed, however it is useless if people do not come to the place in the first place. Promotion needs to be improved in this project.

Any other comments?

The concept of maintaining the project was very interesting. When I visited the Oil Tank Culture Park, I felt fresh and curious. The Oil Tank Culture Park was a healing place not only due to the Maebongsan Mountain that surrounds the site but also because each tank has its own value. Knowing that the building has historical value, gives visitors a holistic and admirable feeling. TheOil Tank Culture Park is definitely worth the investment.



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Contributor audex


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