Streets as Spaces of Community Building: A Case Study of Urban Regeneration in Samdeok Maeul, Seoul

Asian Studies, 6(2), pp. 231-251
Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana | Ljubljana | 2018 | ISSN 2232-5131

Streets play rather diverse roles in the everyday lives of cities, which have changed considerably in recent decades. The South Korean capital of Seoul is no exception in this regard. Streets once used to be traditional centres of social and economic life, which thus affected the urban structure and identity of the city. The rapid growth of motorised traffic along with market-driven urban development gradually transformed the streets into traffic corridors, with a very limited role in reproducing and maintaining the communal life in localities. The Seoul Metropolitan Government and civil society, however, recently increased their efforts to improve walkability and recover streets as a part of public life in the city. The urban regeneration of Samdeok Maeul is an example of these efforts, where street renewal was carried out with of an aim of raising the quality of the living environment as well as enhancing community building. The case study of Samdeok Maeul can in this regard contribute to a better understanding of streets as spaces of community building as well as community-based urban regeneration, and the role of different stakeholders in it. The research results show that urban regeneration strengthened the communal importance of streets in Samdeok Maeul, which was mainly a result of civic participation in urban regeneration rather than the actual street renewal. Partnerships, which are in this way established between public institutions, civil society and residents, could lead towards socially more inclusive, just and sustainable urban development in Seoul and beyond.

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Transformation of deprived urban areas and social sustainability: A comparative study of urban regeneration and urban redevelopment in Barcelona and Seoul

Urbani izziv, 29(1), pp. 30-41
Urban Planning institute of the Republic of Slovenia | Ljubljana | 2018 | ISSN 0353-6483

The transformation of deprived urban areas is important for strengthening social sustainability in particular localities, and it is also instrumental in attracting new investments to cities. Speculative urban development, however, often ignores the social importance of localities and considers them mere economic assets that can be stripped of historical, social, and symbolic meaning and turned into easily marketed commodities. This article examines the somewhat contradictory role of the transformation of deprived urban areas in cities. It compares Barcelona and Seoul, two cities with different historical, cultural, and institutional contexts. The 22@ Activity District in Poblenou and Wangsimni New Town are explored as case studies to understand how urban regeneration and urban redevelopment are embedded in a particular locality and what consequences they have on social sustainability. Although the two cases differ in terms of planning approach, stakeholders, and institutional contexts, the findings suggest that the consequences for social sustainability were similar in both. The article argues that declining social cohesion and a lack of citizen participation were a consequence of speculative urban development, in which urban regeneration and urban redevelopment were instrumentalized to attract investments, strengthen economic competitiveness, and improve the city’s global appeal rather than address diverse local challenges.

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Comparing Transformation of Deprived Mixed-Use Areas in Seoul: Community Building in Traditional Industrial Clusters

With Cho Ha-young
The Entrepreneurial City, pp. 370-381
Hendrik Tieben, Yan Geng, Francesco Rossini (eds.)
International Forum on Urbanism and The Chinese University of Hong Kong | Hong Kong | 2017 | ISBN 978-962-8272-33-4

Cities in East Asia are some of the world’s largest urban agglomerations. Their growth is a result of rapid economic and urban development, where little attention was paid to the environmental or social consequences in the past. In the aftermath of the global economic slowdown, these approaches do not work anymore, and cities are faced with growing social and economic uncertainties. Local governments are thus looking for new urban policies to address these uncertainties in a more comprehensive and sustainable way. Seoul is no exception in this regard. Seoul Metropolitan Government introduced new urban policies, which aim to strengthen social cohesion and contribute to more sustainable economic and urban development. Urban regeneration of deprived urban areas plays a key role in these efforts.

This study takes Sangwangsimni and Haebangchon in Seoul as a case study to better understand the changing approaches of Seoul Metropolitan Government to transform deprived mixed-used areas and consequences of these approaches on traditional industries. The authors have conducted policy analysis and in-depth interviews with residents, local business, civic groups, experts and public officials, involved in the transformation of both localities. The research results show that the local government failed to recognise the importance of traditional industries in Sangwangsimni, which led to their decline. In Haebangchon, on the contrary, traditional industries are recognised as important assets, which will be preserved. This change came largely as a result of an emerging partnership between the local government and different stakeholders in the locality.

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Recovering streets as communal space in localities: Urban regeneration of Samdeok Town in Seoul

With Park Hayun
Crossroads: Asian Streets in the Dynamics of Change, pp. 8-17
Heng Chye Kiang, Zhang Ye (eds.)
School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore | Singapore | 2016 | ISBN 978-981-11-1812-8

Cities are faced with growing social and economic disparities, environmental problems and political tensions, which erode their capacity to effectively cope with social, economic and environmental risks. Community-based urban regeneration has been recognised as one of the key approaches that can help cities to achieve a socially inclusive and environmentally balanced urban development. While different views exist on the role of communal space for successful urban regeneration, recovery of local streets, plazas or parks is recognised to play a vital role in bringing together residents with different economic, social and cultural backgrounds. This is seen as an important step towards sustainable development of cities.

Seoul Metropolitan Government has recently placed community building and urban regeneration at the centre of their efforts to address social, economic and environmental challenges in the city. Community-based urban regeneration is expected to improve built environment as well as restore communal life and shared identities in localities. In result, there is also a growing interest in Seoul in recovering streets as spaces of everyday life.

This paper explores urban regeneration of Samdeok Town to understand the changing role of streets as communal space in localities. By taking the Residential Environment Management Project as a case study, this research focuses on how the community-building and urban regeneration affect perception of streets among the residents and their appropriation of streets as communal space in Samdeok Town. The authors conducted extensive fieldwork and attended community workshops as well as interviews with several residents, urban planners, community activists and researchers. The research results show that the perception of streets has been largely changed and the residents have successfully recovered them as their communal space, which played the key role in successful community-based urban regeneration of Samdeok Town.

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Local responses to market-driven urban development in global cities

Teorija in praksa, 51.special edition, pp. 221-240
Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana | Ljubljana | 2014 | ISSN 0040-3598

Urban development has become an important instrument of neoliberal urban policy by which cities are trying to respond to global pressures and opportunities. Barcelona and Seoul are taken as case studies with different historical, cultural and institutional background, yet similar when it comes to how neoliberal urban policy and market-driven urban development are embedded into particular localities. The paper compares transformation of Poblenou in Barcelona and Wangsimni in Seoul in terms of planning approach, consequences on the everyday life in locality and local responses to market-driven urban development. Although its outcomes in Poblenou and Wangsimni were rather similar, the local responses were quite different. While the residents in Poblenou saw transformation of the neighbourhood as a threat to their collective identity, the residents in Wangsimni initially perceived it as an opportunity to improve their economic situation. The paper argues that local responses to market-driven urban development in this way reveal what Mlinar calls the mutual interdependence between individuation and globalisation. Although similar structural processes transform localities around the world, the later remain an important source of social and urban change in global cities.

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Social role of urban parks in global cities: a case study of Cheonggyecheon Restoration, Seoul and Diagonal Mar Park, Barcelona

Asian Urban Places, pp. 7-15
Heng Chye Kiang, Oscar Carracedo García-Villalba, Zhang Ye (eds.)
School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore | Singapore | 2014 | ISBN 978-981-09-3687-7

Provision of urban parks is considered to be an important instrument, which helps addressing social and territorial cohesion in global cities. Yet local governments strive to create new investment opportunities for global capital and provide spectacle for expanding tourism and cultural industries, which often makes urban parks into an instrument of competition between global cities rather than an effective approach, dealing with their social and environmental problems. Speculative urban development considers urban parks merely as an economic asset, which can be stripped off their social meanings, and turned into a commodity that can easily be marketed and consumed.

The paper compares Cheonggyecheon Restoration in Seoul and Diagonal Mar Park in Barcelona to explore the changing social role of urban parks as urban commons and meaningful communal space in global cities. Cheonggyecheon is a large urban park in the downtown Seoul, constructed after the Cheonggye Expressway was demolished and an ancient stream was recovered on its place. It quickly became a popular public space and a new tourist attraction in Seoul. Diagonal Mar Park, constructed on a former industrial site in Barcelona, is less centrally located and is one among many urban parks in the city. Although the two parks seem to have little in common at first sight, the paper argues that the instrumentalisation of Cheonggyecheon and Diagonal Mar Park, in order to improve economic competitiveness and global appeal in Seoul and Barcelona, has negatively affected their social role in a similar way.

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Changing approaches to urban development in South Korea: From ‘clean and attractive global cities’ towards ‘hopeful communities’

International Development Planning Review, 35.4, pp. 395-418
Liverpool University Press | Liverpool | 2013 | ISSN 1474-6743
DOI 10.3828/idpr.2013.27

South Korea is one of the world’s most urbanised countries. While the country is well known for the rapid economic growth and massive urbanisation in the past, it is overlooked that approaches to urban development in South Korea are beginning to change. The paper addresses this by considering different urban design projects in the Seoul metropolitan region in terms of how they address the local history and culture, the quality of everyday life, economic competitiveness, diverse uses of public space and civic participation in decision-making. The Kkummaru Visitors Centre, Dongdaemun Design Plaza and Park, Bupyeong Culture Street and Gwanghwamun Plaza are discussed as case studies of recent urban design projects. While all cases show that novel approaches to urban development are taking place in South Korea, the paper argues that the urban design, which fails to sustain the existing social and cultural structures, to create inclusive places of social interaction or to involve citizens in the decision-making does not significantly differ from the past.

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Comparing urban renewal in Barcelona and Seoul: urban management in conditions of competition among global cities

Asia Europe Journal, 10.1, pp. 21-39
with Matjaž Uršič
Springer Verlag | Berlin | 2012 | ISSN 1610-2932
DOI 10.1007/s10308-012-0319-1

Cities have become increasingly autonomous economic and political actors which actively respond to the pressures and opportunities of globalisation. Consequently, the urban management of any particular city is often based on the assumption that the city can improve its position against rival cities by efficiently managing its strategic resources and promoting its presumed advantages. Though such an approach to urban management may help cities to improve their global competitiveness and the quality of their residents’ everyday life, it can sometimes result in negative consequences at the local level, thus actually narrowing the development prospects of the cities in the end. This article discusses urban management against the backdrop of the competitive urban policy in Barcelona and Seoul, and compares the local consequences of urban renewal in both cities. Based on a comparison of the two cases of urban renewal, 22@ Activity District in Barcelona and the Cheonggyecheon restoration in Seoul, this article argues that, in conditions of competition among global cities, even very different approaches to urban management and urban renewal may result in similar consequences at the local level.

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Selling global Seoul: competitive urban policy and symbolic reconstruction of cities

Revija za Sociologiju, 41.3, pp. 291-313
Croatian Sociological Association | Zagreb | 2011 | ISSN 0350-154X
DOI 10.5613/rzs.41.3.2

The paper focuses on a process of symbolic reconstruction of cities, where the existing image or meaning of places is purposely changed with the aim of attracting new investments, events or tourists to a particular city. The process of symbolic reconstruction is situated within the context of growing competition among cities. Symbolic reconstruction also affects tourism development in cities by providing an easily marketed and consumable image and meaning of places. The case of the Cheonggyecheon restoration in Seoul helps in understanding how symbolic reconstruction of cities is related to and affected by competitive urban policy, urban renewal and city marketing. Observing local consequences one can conclude that while the Cheonggyecheon restoration and resulting symbolic reconstruction of the city helped Cheonggyecheon to become the major tourist attraction and icon of global Seoul, it also resulted in a decline in local places and cultures. Such outcomes of urban renewal contradict strategic goals of urban policy and may prevail in the end over the benefits, which the Cheonggyecheon restoration brings to tourism development and everyday life in Seoul.

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Industrial heritage in Barcelona: between vacant monuments and everyday life

AB, 41.190-191, pp. 40-42
Association of Architects of Ljubljana | Ljubljana | 2011 | ISSN 0352-1982

The 22@ district of activities is a typical case of urban regeneration of a former industrial area in Barcelona. The plan envisages an extensive economic transformation and urban regeneration of a working-class neighbourhood Poblenou whereby the city authorities would create new investment and employment opportunities and improve the city’s competitiveness. A lot of attention has been directed towards the protection of industrial heritage as an important aspect of Poblenou’s unique identity with the plan outlining various schemes to transform the former factories into new manufacturing, educational, residential or community spaces.

The practice has shown, however, that the protection of industrial heritage in Poblenou is more focused on preserving the appearance of the former factories than on the questions of their future purpose and significance, which has led to a conflict between the residents of the neighbourhood and the city authorities. The industrial heritage, which represents a part of everyday life to the residents of Poblenou and is a symbolic expression of their working-class past, was understood mostly as an opportunity for new investments by the city authorities. The 22@ district of activities thus shows that the successful protection of industrial heritage in Barcelona is largely due to the strivings of the civil society for the right to common memory, which makes the case of Poblenou relevant also for the Slovene environment.

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