Rapidly Urbanizing World and Overview on Seoul Urban Planning Experience
So, what is urban planning? What does urban planning do?
There are three major problems and corresponding goals. We overviewed the many problems it faces but it comes to the three major problems. One is the issue of poverty. The second issue is that of pollution and the third is that of inequality. So to reduce the poverty, we need growth and we need to increase the productivity.
And to reduce the pollution, we need green development. And to reduce inequality, we need more justice in the cities. Urban planning is the framework and tool to make achieve these goals. How to plan to address the key urban developmental challenges? We need to create, protect and enhance the commons such as natural resources, the climate, public health and safety. And we also need to develop adequate urban assets including public space, infrastructure, the right mix of activities and people, adequate housing and so forth.
Both urban commons and assets are needed for people to live better and businesses to thrive. These are the typical questions of urban planning. How to choose the urban pattern? How to improve access and avoid congestion? How to provide infrastructure and key services? How to build resilience and reduce climate risks? How to make a city safer? How to address informality? How can urban planning generate financial resources? How to allocate investment? How to create partnerships with citizens and private entities? And most importantly, how to know if we are making an impact?
This is one of the typical questions in urban planning regarding land consumption. Suppose we have 1 million population and we can assume there are five people per household. Then we can have 200,000 households, which means we need 200,000 housing units. We can put in more assumptions but let me just explain the results. If we develop the city with four or five story building types of density then we just need 3 km radius and 29 km2 area of city size. But if we develop the city with single detached housing low density patter, then we need 8 km radius and 220 km2 area. So there is a huge difference depending upon the overall average density.
To make the city more compact the first thing we need to think about is the density. Another important issue especially for the 21st Century is the walkable city. We need to make the city more walkable. The picture on the left is Cheonggyecheon in Seoul. You can see that picture showing gathering, meeting each other and participating in cultural events.
The citizens can access this place by foot or by public transportation but importantly to make that possible we need the city to be denser. For example, if the city’s density is higher than 200 people can enjoy their daily lives by foot or on the bicycle. And Seoul’s metropolitan area has about 270 population density so Seoul’s citizens can commute or go about their daily activities without cars.
We need density of at least 100 people per ha, then we can provide public transpiration. Otherwise it is difficult to provide public transportation. Urban planning is a framework that helps citizens transform a vision into a reality using space as a key resource for development and engaging stakeholders along the way. Urban planning is not about images but is a way to make a difference. Urban planning helps to formulate medium and long term objectives that reconcile a collective vision and organize the resources to achieve the vision.
So the planning is the framework which begins with consensus building and leadership, on which we make a plan, and based on the plan we produce an output such as land development pattern, public space, etc., which leads to better quality of life. In summary, we talked about the three goals and I added one more goal. The three goals are growth, green and justice. But the issue is that these three goals sometimes conflict with each other. For example if we over-emphasize environmental protection it’s difficult to provide low income housing in the right places.
So instead of emphasizing one aspect we need to keep a balance between the goals. And urban planning will harmonize the goals. Through planning, all its participants including government, private entities and citizens can collaborate to build the city right.