Seoul Campus

6. Overview on Seoul Urban Planning Experience

Date 2017-09-16 Writer ssunha
  • Urban Planning
  • Prof. Name Myunggu Kang
  • 2017-09-16

<Urban Planning Module 6>

Let me conclude with some remarks. Today's urbanization is getting bigger more rapidly. Previously, urbanization's speed was relatively slow and the city sizes were small compared to that of today. As urbanization speeds up and the cities grow bigger it raises many issues. Let's compare the urbanization pattern in the developed and developing world.

For example, the size of the population. The developed world's cities population remains pretty much stable, but developing world's cities experience very rapid population growth. So the focus of the planning in developed world is its current citizens but the developing world's cities need to think about the future citizens. The developing world's cities need to think about the current and the future citizens. As you saw in the case of Seoul, the size of future citizens is far bigger than the existing residents.

And in terms of resources, the developed world's cities have, on average, many good financial and human resources. But in the developing world's cities, the resources are very limited. We need an innovative solutions to tackle issues. In terms of planning, the developed world's cities try to solve the problems in hand, but in the developing world the planning should be more proactive. The planning in the developing world's cities need to consider its future and its future citizens.

Participation is very critical in the developed world. But in the developing world, it's very difficult to incorporate the future citizens into the planning process and that's why the role of leaders and experts are very important. Also I want to address the issues of timing and speed. Because the speed of urbanization is very fast, the right timing in actions is very important.

The planning and implementation should be quick enough to address the issues. This is the summary of Seoul's urban planning experience during the rapidly expanding from the 1960's to 2000's. In the 1960's, Seoul was expanded without proper planning. That time the population was 2.4 million. The top priority then was the setting up of spacial framework. As you saw in the master plan, we have to have some base for future developments. Another big issue is how to secure public space, That time most of the land were owned by private entities but for a sustainable city, we needed around 50% of public spaces. So it was a big task to secure the public space. And the water problem was also a big issue that time.

In 1970 the population reached around 7 million. So the priority shifted towards how to develop and supply the urban land. I emphasize this term 'urban land', which indicates land with proper infrastructure. So it should include transportation, water, sanitation, communication, energy and gas. We need all the services for the land then we can use that piece of land for urban purposes including housing, commercial and industrial purposes.
We developed public transportation system and the sewer system. Sanitation became a priority. In 1990, the population reached over 10 million. Nowadays the priority for the planning is more compact, smart, urban transit and e-government. So Seoul experienced this kind of transformation during the last 50 years.

Smart and sustainable city. Urbanization has the potential of increasing the benefit of agglomeration. And there is also the potential for risk of congestion. Suppose that this is the quality of life before, as more people gather into the city the agglomeration benefit would increase.
But without proper planning, the congestion cost will increase. So we need to expand both sides. We need to improve the benefit agglomeration and we also need to decrease the possible risk of congestion. The first stage, we need to build the infrastructure and nowadays we can add information technology to the city. With technology and new rules, we can create a smart and sustainable city.

This is the picture of Seoul today. You can see some historical preservation, some green and some natural areas. You can also see some high-tech industries and offices. You can see some green mountainous areas in the background. Seoul is in a well organized and harmonized urban setting. All of these achievements can be made through proper planning. Developments with plans for urban land, public transportation, water and sanitation, energy, housing will make possible smart and sustainable urbanization.

This week, we briefly overviewed Seoul's transformation over the last half century. There are some lessons especially for rapidly growing cities. Throughout this course, you will see more specific tools, planning and approach to solve the issues such as land, housing, transportation, water and sanitation. 
I hope you have enjoyed the course.