Deciding Together: Citizen Participation in Planning the Neighbourhood Improvement in Seoul and Singapore

With Cho Im Sik and Kim Su
Asia Review, 8(2), pp. 62-102
Seoul National University Asia Center | Seoul | 2019 | ISSN 2234-0386

Cities in East Asia are faced with growing social, economic and environmental risks. National and local govern- ments are, hence, looking for novel policies that could improve the long-term capacity of cities to address these risks more comprehensively and effectively. Citizen participation and neighbourhood improvement are both considered playing a key role in building more inclusive and sustainable cities. This article compares the transformation of Samdeok Maeul in Seoul and Tampines in Singapore to better understand the importance of citizen participation in planning the neighbourhood improvement, and its consequences on urban devel- opment in general. Both cases represent a similar shift from previous state-led towards participatory plan- ning. The research follows a case-oriented qualitative approach. The authors conducted in-depth interviews with major stakeholders, participant observation, expert workshops, and review of secondary resources. The research findings suggest that in both cases the residents were able to affect neighbourhood improvement through community engagement in the planning process. At the same time, the research findings imply that the state remains largely in control over the process, which indicates the challenges that need to be consid- ered in order to empower communities in Seoul and Singapore in the long run.

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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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