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Seoul Treasure Den for Books (서울책보고) Project

1 Ogeum-ro, 잠실4동 Songpa-gu, Seoul, 대한민국

Seoul Treasure Den for Books (서울책보고)

Development Type: Retail Development

Type Of Developer: Public Sector

Start Year: 2015

Address: 1 Ogeum-ro, 잠실4동 Songpa-gu, Seoul, 대한민국


Contributor: audex


Location Description
- Shincheon Rainwater Pump Station - No book-related facilities other than Songpa Children's English Small Library - Jamsil Bridge on Han River, Jamsil Naru Station on Subway Line 2 = Convenient transportation - Many natural green areas such as Gwangnaru Han River Park, Ecological Park, and Seongnaecheon Trail. A quiet and good view. - Around living areas such as Jamhyeon Elementary School, Jamsil High School, Jamsil Parkrio Apartment Complex. Mostly high living income. - Commercial area 1km south. Lotte World, Seokchon Lake, Lotte World Tower. A lot of visitors.

Case Report


<Seoul Treasure Den for Books(서울책보고)> is a complex cultural space that functions as a secondhand bookstore, library, and cultural program. It is created by renovating Amway warehouse-type store located in Sincheon-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul. This Building operates as a space for enhancing the value of books, preserving secondhand bookstores, sharing knowledge and talents through book donation, providing opportunities to enjoy various independent publications, providing experience in cultural programs based on books. It is not just a place to buy and sell old books, but it has a program to convey the spirit of the time and the body temperature of people on the books. It is not a building or a bookshelf, but an architectural space where people and books are emphasized. The project focuses on secondhand bookstores as future heritage. These are another knowledge Platform, but they are one of the marginalized industries. In order to revitalize used bookstores, the Seoul Government has attempted various projects, and the ‘Seoul Treasure Den for Books’ addresses the lack of space and public relations issues of the type of facilities in the public domain. It serves as the economic and cultural axis of the city, providing a place for sale to the owners of secondhand bookstores and a place for citizens to enjoy books. In addition, it has become a good example of urban co-prosperity by successfully linking each facility and expanding to the online platform. It opened in 2019 and attracted 317,348 visitors, 213,118 copies sold, and 250,000 visitors and participated in that year. It selected ‘2020's Handsome Seoul(잘생겼다, 서울)’ for the theme of 'Seoul is Wisdom(서울은 지혜다)'.

Development Info.

Development Scale: Building

Total Development Cost: 3,692,000,000₩ (2018 설계 계획 변경 검토 계획 기준)

Total Land Area: 4670.4m2

Total Development Area: 1465m2

Area Type: Urban Area - Urban Residential Area

Start Date: 2015/09/02

Opening Date: 2019/03/27

Planning Approval: Name: Project to create ‘Secondhand book treasure island’(헌책보물섬 조성 사업) Approval Date: 15.09.24

Lead Developer: Cultural Department, Seoul Library

Consultants: The head librarian of Seoul library Jungsu Lee(서울도서관장), Head of the administrative support department(행정지원과장) Hyunsook Lee, Head of the cultural department(문화본부장) Junghteop Seo, Public Architect Hyun Seo (Professor of Seoul National Univ.)


Economic Context

- Activation of secondhand bookstores The used bookstore industry is suffering from economic poverty due to problems with publicity and book storage space. There is not much information on where used bookstores are and what they sell. Also, it is hard to find books because they are piled up randomly due to lack of space. If this problem is not solved, the industry will inevitably disappear. Solving these economic problems in the public domain is the beginning of the project. Through this project, it aims to revitalize the used book store industry. - Create potential consumers for secondhand books, independent publications The number of used bookstores is decreasing. Due to the lack of publicity for that bookstores and the lack of a platform that brings secondhand bookstores together, potential consumers are being missed. The project serves as a platform to address this situation. - Solve the problem of running out of space It provides a place to sell some of the books on consignment for secondhand bookstores that cannot afford many books. The owners of secondhand bookstores generate economic benefits by lending space at low prices.

Social Context

- Encouraging book-mediated cultural activities Recently, cultural life through books has been encouraged. Various events and programs, including book concerts, book cafes, and meetings with authors, are combined with libraries and bookstores. These are also encouraged in the public domain. - Possibility of creating a community through a secondhand book Used books have a big relationship with human traces. Indirect communication can occur through the exchange, donation, and purchase of old books, and traces of them can also be passed on to others. It can also form a community that includes the region and the entire Seoul through books and various programs. - Social values from resource cycles Reduce unnecessary wasted resources by allowing used books to circulate through exchange, donation and purchase rather than simply discarding them. This cycle of book resources creates social value.

Environmental Context

- Near Hangang Park Han River Park is a natural green area with many visitors and a space that can have a positive impact on them. It creates a good space by creating a facility where visitors can enjoy books along with nearby green areas. - Near residential areas Since the site is near residential areas, there is a need to provide the necessary space for residence. The project was carried out in consideration of the lack of public space nearby and the lack of book-related facilities. - Recycling of idle facilities It has great potential for abandoned warehouse buildings near this type of environment. Having a large physical space is appropriate for bookshelves. In addition, considering the environmental aspect and the fact that the surrounding area is a residential area, renovation was chosen rather than demolishing and rebuilding the building.

Historical Context

- Historical value of used bookstores; future heritage Used bookstores are one of the traditional knowledge exchange platforms that have been around since the 1900s. However, due to economic reasons and other factors, the government is making efforts to protect used bookstores as future heritage.

The Plan

Pre-planning Efforts

▶ Seoul's policy to revitalize secondhand bookstores - Seoul Bookstore(서울형 책방): Operation of customized support projects for local bookstores as a cultural space based on local books - Hanpyeong Bookstore(한 평 책방): Operation of used bookstores and cultural enjoyment events involving citizens directly; - Seoul Bookstore Week (서울 서점 주간 행사): Operation of a promotional week for local bookstores for citizens in commemoration of Bookstore Day (11.11). - Local Bookstore Committee(지역서점위원회): Advisory on the Promotion of Bookstore Revitalization Projects, Formulation of a Support Plan for Local Bookstores, etc. - Cheonggye Stream used bookstore street. Seoul Future Heritage ▶ Online, Offline Secondhand Bookstore Case - Aladdin Secondhand Bookstore (알라딘 중고 서점) - Internet used bookstore Goguma (인터넷 헌책방 고구마)

Vision Statement

- Satisfy citizens' desire for reading culture by utilizing idle facilities to create a book culture space; - Supporting the promotion of used bookstores through the improvement of the distribution structure of used books and the operation of joint warehouses; Source(Initial Creation Plan): 헌책 보물섬 조성사업 추진계획 | 서울시 정보소통광장(정보공개) (

Goals and Objectives

Operation of a book complex that provides citizens with the value of old books and unique books through the sale and exhibition of used books, reading donated books by celebrities, reading independent publications, and exhibiting; Providing an open space for citizens through various book culture programs based on books, regional linkage programs for diversification and revitalization of local culture and arts communities, and the operation of reading and education programs at individual and family levels; Source (Operation Plan, City Hall):

Issues and Problems

-Renovation Building Selection -Bookshelf Safety Issues -Setting up the way it operates; private consignment -Criteria for recruiting and selecting participating bookstores -Online platform operational orientation issues -Project Naming; Contest

Benchmark Projects


Public Engagement Strategy

- Public participates as a consumer of books and programs. - Donors of used books are also public participation. Increase social value with the participation of people who donate used books.

Financing Strategy

- Lease space at a low price. Rent revenue is used for operating and maintaining facilities. - Owners of secondhand bookstores are less burdened with low rents, and the profits from selling books at the facility are greater than rents cost. - Buyers can purchase high-quality books at low prices. - As a result, all the main agents of operation, sale, and purchase benefit.

Existing Community and Residents

- Association of Used Bookstore Operators: Connecting with the community. Encourage many bookshop operators to enter. - Local Community: Selected facilities type in consideration of the needs of local people. It conducts a cultural program which residents can participate. Proceed with education programs in connection with nearby schools.

Phasing Strategy


The Master Plan

- Utilize the structure of existing building (Amway warehouse-type store). Renovation - Opening for reading while appreciating surrounding landscapes - Close to the subway station exit; can move quickly from other place in Seoul. - Utilize existing parking lot. - Considering that it is near the Han River, it does not extend from the 1st floor to the top for viewing other buildings.

Land Uses and Programs

Secondhand bookstore, library, Culture program, Book café, Counter, Searching, Exhibition, Parking lot, Landscape

Timeline or Milestones

15.07.20 to 09.24: Feasibility study and master plan formulation 15.12.30: Establishment of a Plan for the Project to Create a ‘secondhand book Treasure Island’ 16.09.30: working design completed 16.11.22: A plan to change the project to create a ’secondhand book treasure island’ 17.06.16: Investment Examination 17.11.10: Precision Safety Diagnosis 18.01.31: Start Construction 18.11.01: Completed 19.03.27: Opening

Current Status

It has been temporarily suspended by covid-19 and reopened. It complies with heating checks and quarantine rules and has partitions for each seat. Many visitors are still visiting and reading books or buying books. It is implementing a plan to create a comprehensive communication space for ‘Seoul Treasure Den for Books’. It have opened an online sales platform since 2020 and is proceeding online program. In 2019, 360,000 people visited, and 213,118 used books were sold. More than 250,000 people participated in the book program, and 125 program events were operated.

Lessons Learned

What is the most important take away from this case?

- Parts that affect the safety of users : There are bookshelves that have safety issues, such as protruding parts or shaking easily. It appears that dangerous things are being repaired at present. Other than this, I don't think there's much to remove at present. There are some improvements that need to be made, and I will explain the questions that follow.

Why is this case relevant today and for whom?

- Preserving Future Heritage; Secondhand bookstore There are many things that disappear as society develops. A used bookstore is one of them. However, the secondhand bookstore has great value as a traditional knowledge exchange platform, which has been designated as Seoul Future Heritage in recognition of this. -Solving the current secondhand bookstore`s problem If used bookstores solve the problems they are experiencing, they can be reborn as facilities that are sufficiently valid today. It is meaningful as a project to bring the current problem of disappearing secondhand bookstores to the public domain. -Seoul`s Policy to Encourage to read There is also an encouragement to read in the public at the moment. However, there is no suitable public library in the site area, which serves as a supplementary facility. It also houses and preserves rare books. It is meaningful as a space for preservation of books that can be a legacy. Related - Used Bookstore Operators : Have Economical Problem. Participate in projects and gain economic benefits and promotional benefits. - Local : Can get books at low prices, see rare books, cultural experience, and use facilities like libraries. - Potential users of secondhand bookstores : New perceptions of secondhand bookstores will be gained while visiting the Seoul Treasure Den for Books. The possibility of using secondhand bookstores afterwards.

Which strategy was proved to be successful?

- Activation Secondhand bookstore with economical benefit An economical strategy of providing space, promoting, and selling for small business owners who operate used bookstores was successful. As of 2019, 213118 books were sold. Store owners have earned far more than their existing sales by spending only low fees to facility. (Hankyore Newspaper(한겨레 신문), Citizen's Reading Life Platform ‘Seoul Treasure Den for Books’, 2021.04.02) This is expected to be more effective by adding an online sales platform. - Cultural program for local Cultural programs also attracted a lot of participation in connection with the surrounding regions. In 2019, 250,000 people participated in the program. The reviews also showed very high ratings. (Grade 4.5/5, 2021.05). Local residence recognizes the Seoul Treasure Den for Books as a public reading facility and cultural center. (Resident Interview 2021.05)

In your opinion, what could have improved this project?

- For Users It is certainly a new form of public facilities for secondhand bookshop operators. However, it does not seem to have that much influence on users. Without cultural programs, it is difficult to find differences from existing used bookstores other than the clarity of the interior. It is difficult to find books because the classification criteria of books are not clear, and there is little space to search for them, so it seems to brought the disadvantages of existing secondhand bookstore. The reading space is integrated with the program space, so there is not enough space to read books on the day of the program. There is a possibility that it will be fully linked to external spaces such as the Han River and landscaping, but it is regrettable that it has only a few visual relationships. So the improvement for users is. 1. A composition, theme space that is different from the existing used bookstore even without cultural programs. 2. Setting standards for classification of books 3. Install additional space to search for books 4. Separation of Program Space and Reading Space 5. Create external spaces and programs that can be linked to the nearby natural environment. (ex. Han River Park Reading Project) -For Operator of secondhand bookstore. Due to space constraints, all used bookstores that want cannot be entered. However, it is desirable to accommodate as many stores as possible. So it would be nice to have a strategy to expand and provide another public warehouse space.

Any other comments?

The Seoul Treasure Den for Books seems to be a new type of public project. Unlike existing projects that simply create reading spaces for residents, they create various effects such as creating economic benefits and revitalizing marginalized industries. It would be nice to have more complex public projects in the form of paying attention to these alienated things. Some improvements are seen because it has not been long since it was opened. However, efforts are being made in various ways, including 'communication space creation project'. So, it will develop into a good enough project.



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Contributor audex


AUDEX is an acknowledgement that we need to start building on our own knowledge and experiences that applies to Asian cities and, perhaps, we can steer the global urbanization in the right direction. We believe in a collective intelligence. Powered by the internet and the network of professionals and experts in Asia, we propose to start by making sharing your experience and knowledge easier.