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
Urbanistični inštitut RS | Ljubljana | 2014 | ISSN 0040-3598

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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Lessons from Wangsimni: Traditional industrial clusters in Seoul as social and cultural assets

Beyond Seun-Sangga: 16 Ideas to go beyond big plans, pp. 124-143
Hyeri Park, Vitnarae Kang (eds.)
Space Books | Seoul | 2015 | ISBN 979-11-87071-00-6

beyond seun-sangga

The Seun Arcade area is one of the remaining traditional industrial clusters in downtown Seoul. Most of these clusters date back to the early modern or even pre-modern times and were established along the major roads of Jongno, Euljiro and the former Cheonggye Expressway. Due to the continued transformation of downtown Seoul over the past few decades, many of these original clusters have already disappeared. Their transformation has often been legitimised as a seemingly unavoidable improvement of what were seen as economically underdeveloped or underused, socially decayed, unsafe or even dangerous urban areas. These places were at the same time portrayed as the unsightly legacy of South Korea’s developmentalist past, which should be eradicated and replaced by a new efforts in urban development.

Over many years of on-going urban redevelopment, these traditional industrial cluster have rarely been recognised as important social and cultural assets. Traditional industrial clusters are not only productive, but also dense social networks, which are largely based on thick interpersonal bonds of trust, a strong sense of solidarity among the member, and a shared communal culture. At the same time, the traditional industrial clusters also form distinct cultural forms, which express a particular history of the city, as well as of citizens and their everyday life.

Wangsimni is perhaps not the most representative of many traditional industrial clusters in Seoul. Nevertheless, it had a rather long history of small-sized industrial site. Small workshops, mostly for the metal industry, used to be integrated with larger productive and social networks. Industry has always been deeply intertwined with the everyday life of the area. In this sense, the transformation of Wangsimni offers valuable lessons about traditional industrial clusters, unfortunately now lost, along with its associated communal culture and everyday life, as a results of large-scale urban redevelopment.

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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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Local responses to global challenges: cultural context of urban change in Barcelona and Seoul

Založba FDV | Ljubljana | 2009, ISBN 978-961-235-386-5 | 2012, ISBN 978-961-235-501-2 (ePub)

Local Responses to Global ChallengesThe book Urban Change and Local culture in Barcelona and Seoul talks about how globalization influences everyday life in cities and about the importance of local culture for urban change. With a broad cross-cultural study of 22@ Activity District urban renewal in Poblenou in Barcelona and Wangsimni New Town urban redevelopment in Seoul the book reveals how structural inequalities on the global and national level influence everyday experience of both cities. Residents in Poblenou and Wangsimni actively respond to the changes in their everyday living environment, which are caused by the globalization, and in this way influence the transformation of both neighbourhoods. Contrary to a general belief that due to globalization cities are becoming more similar to each other, the book shows how local culture remains an important source of urban change in cities today, while being at the same time the source of their distinctiveness and diversity.

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Urban change and local culture: responses to urban renewal in Wangsimni

Journal of Seoul Studies, 37, pp. 117-153
Institute of Seoul Studies | Seoul | 2009 | ISSN 1225-746x

Urban renewal is a process, which improves quality of life in cities and addresses disparities caused by past urban development at the local level. Yet cities have also become increasingly integrated at the global level. The competition between them influences the way a particular city reacts to pressures and opportunities of globalization. Urban renewal is therefore often instrumentalized by political elites and private investors for improvement of global status of a particular city, which may in turn result in undesired social, economic, environmental or political outcomes at the local level. Seoul is no exception in this regard. This paper deals with the urban renewal in Wangsimni, an old neighbourhood east of the downtown Seoul, in order to study how globalization affects the urban renewal, how urban renewal constrains everyday life in cities, and how the citizens respond to challenges caused by it. In the conclusion the article argues that local culture has been a major source of responses to urban renewal in Wangsimni, although in this particular case the actual outcomes of those responses were far from desired. Urban renewal in Wangsimni namely seems closer to developmentalism, characteristic for Seoul in the past, than to anticipated sustainable development of Seoul in the future.

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