Once a nation destroyed by war, today known as the Asian Miracle. South Korea managed to rise its per capita income from below US$100 to over US$30,000 in less than six decades. In this week’s Urban Series, Mexico Infrastructure & Sustainability Review features the capital of one of the four Asian Tigers: Seoul.
More than a quarter of the South Korean population lives in the capital city, which ranks it amongst the most densely populated OECD capital cities. The rapid urban growth carried the need for a quick but sophisticated urban planning that contributed to the fast provision of roads, water, housing, sewage and other urban infrastructure, says Sohyun Park in his Healthy Urban Planning in Seoul, Korea presentation.
By now, the city has shifted many of its planning paradigms to focus on regeneration of infrastructure for smart growth, redistribution of welfare, with roads that are pedestrian-oriented and the creation of physical and social environments. As model projects pursue quality of life and livability in the South Korean capital, the designs have become ever more participatory and community-oriented.
SEOUL 2030, CITIZEN EQUALS DESIGNER
In striving for a city for and by its citizens, Seoul is working on the 2030 city plan, the first one designed by the people. “After discussing with professionals, the citizens’ five core issues were: a people-centered city without discrimination, a dynamic global city with a strong job market, a vibrant cultural and historic city, a lively and safe city, and a community-oriented city with stable housing and easy transportation,” reports CutureTrip in its article about the best cities for urban design in the world.
Park explains how the model is based on participatory neighborhoods in which residents reach consensus about a project. The decision is afterward approved by a committee and followed by an agreed report on the masterplan. Then, the construction contract is allocated and the final budget approved so the project can be implemented.
Seoul 2030 has become the Metropolitan Government’s priority in planning the direction to be pursued within the city. “It suggests space planning, as well as the basic direction for the establishment of Seoul Metropolitan Government’s future policies and planning in each field, and it will also affect the life of citizens extensively,” states the government when defining the city planning strategy that strives for happy citizens with communication and consideration.
The proposal will be directed toward four space-planning policies: the strengthening of global competitiveness of the metropolitan area, the development direction of five areas, the recovery and strengthening of Seoul City’s identity and the innovative improvement of citizens’ living environment. According to the City Metropolitan Government, “the future vision for its urban management over the next two decades will be a city where people are happy, people communicate with each other, and people have regard for others.”