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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Transformation of Barcelona’s Eastern Waterfront: From the City Periphery to the Central Public Space in the City

City:Edge, pp. 51-59
Uroš Lobnik, Peter Šenk (eds.)
Založba Pivec & HAM Publications | Maribor | 2014 | ISBN 978-961-6897-65-5

The transformation of Barcelona’s eastern waterfront, between the Olympic Village, Poblenou and the new Forum, is a characteristic example of successful urban regeneration, where the former city periphery was developed into one of the central public spaces in the city. In order to fully understand urban regeneration process and its consequences on everyday life in the city, the paper examines both the urban planning approach and the historical and social background of the area. The large-scale transformation of the former periphery into a public space namely not only alters spatial relations, but it also affects social and symbolic relations in the city. The evolving civic awareness about importance of integrating the city periphery into everyday life in Barcelona contributed to the eventual success of urban regeneration.

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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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Poljane reinvented: social cohesion and collective space

Poljane: extended city centre, pp. 129-137
Ilka Čerpes, Blaž Križnik, Luka Mladenovič, Marko Studen (eds.)
Municipality of Ljubljana | Ljubljana | 2008 | ISBN 978-961-6449-17-5

Sustainable city and new public spaces are the main topics of the latest edition of Europan. The paper argues, however, that the debate about sustainable city and new public space needs to be translated into more operational concepts such as social cohesion, collective space or identity politics in order to become relevant for the future development of the Poljane area, the Europan site in Slovenia, and for the everyday experience of Ljubljana in general.

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Restoration of the Cheonggye Stream in Seoul: global cities and collective space

Družboslovne razprave, 55, pp. 115-134
Slovenian Sociological Association | Ljubljana | 2007 | ISSN 0352-3608

The paper explores the broader social background of transformations that public space is undergoing amidst the conditions of transnational co-operation and growing competition among cities. The character of public space in global cities is becoming more homogenous and excluding due to its increasingly instrumental role in urban development. The importance of public space for the formation of a democratic and heterogeneous civil society is thereby being eroded. The paper tries to show how the recent restoration of the Cheonggye stream in Seoul in South Korea has influenced its social role and thus verify the assumption of the excluding nature of public space in global cities. The reasons why Cheonggyecheon is losing its past role of a place where civic society and local cultures were reproduced are summed up in the conclusion.

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