Seoul Human Town
Relatated Sustainable Development Goals:
Residents’ participation was promoted through various contests for Seoul's citizens and students
Seoul focused on the means to promote residents’ voluntary participation in order to attract the general public’s continuous interest in Seoul Human Town, and spread the culture of building humane villages. The city of Seoul selected the areas for which the Seoul Human Town project’s effects may be huge among the target areas. This was applied by autonomous districts, and implemented pilot projects. In 2008, the invitation for applying for project target areas was publicly sent out, and the Target Area Selection Deliberation Committee was organized with relevant experts on Nov. 21, 2008. In this manner, pilot project areas were selected. For smooth project implementation, there was a principle to select areas, in which large scale development plans were not established in the concerned area or adjacent area within 5 years among residential areas that can minimize development pressure, or type 1 general residential areas, where infrastructure is relatively good, and a small scale detached houses area with about 100 households. The city of Seoul then let local residents organize resident councils through a district unit plan, and established a method to support its operation and plan to establish the public facilities that were required by the residents. The city also plans to improve the environment including alley design. In addition, the city of Seoul assisted in the budget to implement the planned projects in the second phase of the plan. The city also held two contests that students participated in. It did so in order to discover new project target areas and to promote the general public’s interest and attention. Through all this, the Seoul Human Town project is being carried out by targeting selected villages.
The Human Town Project has been established through residents’ participation.
Due to rapid industrialization and urbanization in the past, the city of Seoul has tried to shift from a top-down mode, through which the public sector uniformly establishes plans and actualizes them, to a resident-led mode for this project. Seoul Human Town is hugely meaningful in that residents take part in their residential area management. It plans and shapes through cooperative governance between residents and administration beyond the redevelopment mode, which in the past caused conflicts with existing residents. Towards this end, a residential council, composed of residents, experts, and administration officials, was organized in each selected area as a window for dialogue and communication. The experts from the relevant fields were commissioned as master planners, and more than 20 resident council meetings were held. Also, through PR, including resident education and sending out leaflets, the residents were encouraged to present their opinions.
The Seoul Human Town project has contributed to solving village problems and turning the villages into attractive places by the public sector improving the villages and presenting a planned management direction in improving the environment of the low-rise residential areas. Also, the project hugely helped to form village community culture, and improve villages, where local residents can enjoy their life through continuous communication with villagers by discussing how to improve villages, how to change fences, and how to develop and maintain parks in the village planning process. The planning process through residents’ participation from the initial stages especially made the residents recognize that they are the owners of the residential areas and that they are the key management players. An opportunity to form a system to continuously manage low residential areas, and the possibility of residents’ autonomous management and participation were confirmed through community competence. When a community activation program, including social and economic regeneration, together with Seoul Human Town Project’s physical regeneration is developed and supported, the connection between policies and synergistic energy can be expected. This can be done through linking various projects that have been conducted targeting low rise residential areas by civic organizations and social activists. The community culture, formed in the process of shaping villages together, is likely to function as a driving force to build up future villages. The city of Seoul is committed to preserving the diversity of low-rise residential areas, maintaining the local area’s community and unique identity, building human towns that are centered on harmony between locality and residents, and also on humanity through continual institutional supplementation and communication with local residents.
The Seoul Human Town Project needs to diagnose village problems and present a direction to take via residents’ participation. For a successful project, a residents’ community culture needs to be formed through supporting resident convenience facilities by the public sector. To do so, the city designated pilot project areas, commissioned district plans and selected urban planning and architecture companies. In this manner, Seoul established district plans covering local problems, residents’ requirements, and a development direction over the span of about eight months.
To build a community center in the Seoul Human Town Project area, urban and residential environment reorganization funds were injected into the project and resident convenience facilities were assisted (about 2 billion KRW per district). To form an organization to implement the project, a City Reorganization Committee affiliated with the Housing HQ Residential Regeneration Planning Officer was organized. In addition, the Residential Environment Department was newly established, and a team was formed that was placed in charge of the project.
In Seoul, resident representatives were organized, centering on Tong and Ban heads in the local areas, to smoothly implement the Seoul Human Town Project. Also, resident councils, which were composed of residents, experts, and public agencies for establishing plans together, were formed, and about 10 council meeting sessions were held to discuss planning directions. By selecting master planners, they could play an assistant’s role from the standpoint of the residents, who should live and manage the area, in addition to the standpoint of the local administrative agencies. Also, an opportunity emerged to solve local residents’ complaints and distrust on the past top-down mode of urban management plans.
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