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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Community-based Urban Development: Evolving Urban Paradigms in Singapore and Seoul

With Cho Im Sik
Springer | Singapore | 2017 | ISBN 978-981-10-1985-2

Community-based Urban DevelopmentThe book compares different approaches to urban development in Singapore and Seoul over the past decades, by focusing on community participation in the transformation of neighbourhoods and its impact on the built environment and communal life. Singapore and Seoul are known for their rapid economic growth and urbanisation under a strong control of developmental state in the past. However, these cities are at a critical crossroads of societal transformation, where participatory and community-based urban development is gaining importance. This new approach can be seen as a result of a changing relationship between the state and civil society, where an emerging partnership between both aims to overcome the limitations of earlier urban development. The book draws attention to the possibilities and challenges that these cities face while moving towards a more inclusive and socially sustainable post-developmental urbanisation. By applying a comparative perspective to understand the evolving urban paradigms in Singapore and Seoul, this unique and timely book offers insights for scholars, professionals and students interested in contemporary Asian urbanisation and its future trajectories.

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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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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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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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