A city that everyone wants to visit and live in - Design Seoul 2.0

A city that everyone wants to visit and live in - Design Seoul 2.0 

It is quite interesting that the English word ‘space’, which means ‘universe’, also means space. For a long time, philosophers have also interpreted the universe as one of ‘space.’ If the place commonly referred to as ‘space’ is not limited to places with physical walls or boundaries such as houses, schools, offices, and cafes, then ‘cities’ can also be seen as the space in which we live. In that respect, urban design is close to spatial design in a broad sense. Because we all live within the city, setting boundaries and stepping on the land. The appearance of various parts of the city is also the appearance of our space and the way we live.

All the spaces we live in, where we walk, take public transportation, or by car, meet us under the name of ‘city.’ The , which the Seoul Metropolitan Government unveiled on June 20, is noteworthy in that respect. Seoul's interest and efforts in design have continued for a long time, starting with , which was promoted from 2006 to 2011. During this period, when the direction was set to become a soft city based on content and culture rather than a structure-centered hardware city, several institutional mechanisms were established, including the enactment of urban design ordinances for the first time in the country, the establishment of the Design Seoul general headquarters organization, and the establishment of design guidelines. The changed appearance gave us a more organized cityscape. The clean street benches, trash cans, consistent public facilities, and transportation facilities such as bus stands that we see today are all the results of . Through this period, which went beyond the changes we felt and made it easier to establish the concept of ‘urban design,’ Seoul’s global urban competitiveness rose to 6th place (2012, based on Mori Foundation).


What is ? 

What is the most Seoul-like scenery? The landscape of mountains and rivers, modern and old buildings, and traditional architecture mixed to a degree that is difficult to find in any other city is a unique sight of Seoul that not only Seoul citizens but also visitors to Seoul talk about. Along with the Han River, the infrastructure is sufficient to include forest paths and walking paths, as well as bridges and cultural spaces that are easy to travel by bicycle or on foot, so that there are countless places even Seoul citizens have not yet visited (there are even a whopping 67 mountains in Seoul). 

is more specific and clear. Version 2.0 takes over the existing ‘Soft Seoul’ and takes it one step further by establishing ‘Active Seoul’ as its vision. Seoul is vibrant and dynamic. The city of Seoul plans to promote 55 detailed projects under this vision with five keywords: ‘empathy, inclusion, contribution, recovery, and sustainability.’ The five keywords are a kind of comprehensive definition, but to summarize, they are a will to create a safe, comfortable, sustainable, and nature-friendly environment that can only be experienced in Seoul, and to further reveal Seoul's unique characteristics.

Fun and fun design 

I once saw a sticker with wide eyes on the back of a truck on the highway. At first, I thought, ‘What is it?’ But it wasn’t just something cute. These eyes prevent the car behind you from drowsy driving and also act as a reflector at night. It is effective in refreshing the mind of the car behind and preventing drowsy driving. This is an example of an easy and effective design application that is fun for everyone. contains such fun designs. It refers to an ‘easy’ design that will be uplifting and fun for anyone to see. There is a perception that public design is particularly rigid and uninteresting, but as a hardware and software device that can be easily accessed, comfortable, and safe, more elements can be made ‘fun’ and safe. A good example is the street improvement project in Yeomni-dong, Mapo-gu, which applied ‘crime prevention design’ for the first time in Korea. The area was narrow, dark, and an environment you would never want to go to at night, but both the crime rate and the perception of it as a ‘dangerous neighborhood’ were drastically reduced through improved signage and light design for the streets at night. Among the messages proposed in , it is consistent with the point that ‘fun imagination becomes reality.’ That is also the power of design. 

For no one else, for us 

A few years ago, the design of the bus stop bell changed several times. Even now, each bus has a slightly different design (the exact reason why it is not applied to all is unclear), and various attempts were made because the location, size, strength, and pressure of the exit bell are different for each person who presses it. The reactions of users at the time were very different, but more than anything, it was nice to get a glimpse of the efforts made to research and consider user-centered design. Like a bus vibrating bell that ‘anyone’ can press, the inclusive design of means a convergent design that encompasses everyone, from children to the elderly, and the disabled and non-disabled. This includes places that anyone can use and enjoy, as well as expanding the role of spaces that were previously used only by certain generations. It is not as easy as you think to identify and apply the inconveniences that each citizen living in the city feels, the appearance that is even slightly unsightly, the convenience of use, etc., but the important thing is that through continuous experimentation and effort, Seoul is gradually being reborn as a clean and convenient city. The point is that there is. Among the projects being planned through , the ‘ultra-generation playground’ scheduled for 2024 is even more curious in that respect. This means that the ‘super-generational playground’, which is scheduled to develop excellent models and guidelines through a pilot project, will be a playground that not only children but also adults, the elderly, and the disabled can enjoy. Another thing that is expected is a comprehensive plan for public facilities and infrastructure for the 15 million pet owners, which is a quarter of the population. Even now, if you go to the Han River walking path or walking path, you will see that more people are walking with their pets than anyone else, which makes you glad to see this policy. There are already places where waste bags for pets are installed in parks and walking trails or playgrounds for pets are planned, and it seems like we can see a changed convenience space for the pet population in terms of space, service, and design. is expected to effectively reflect the daily lives and lifestyles of Seoul citizens as it has implemented street planning and application of citizen convenience facilities such as walking, cycling, and Ttareungi faster than any other city. This also includes a public art project to make Seoul's daily life and streets into a space and time of artistic inspiration. This is also a strategy to use the city itself as a white cube as a place where various artistic experiments and cultural contents are created. In particular, the reason there is so much debate about public art is that it is a burden and responsibility that must be taken as ‘art for all’. So, I hope that the city will be filled with more careful and sensitive work. 


Sanghee Oh

Content planner/design editor

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