EDITING : 2023.9.11 월 09:45
The Gachon Herald
Connecting People and Crafting New Cities through Urban RegenerationCitizens' Allies in Building Sustainable Cities
Kim su hyun  |  iam_suhyun@naver.com
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Updated : 2023.09.09  13:27:30
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 The modern era is characterized by the fact that a city's competitiveness equates to the nation's competitiveness. However, the phenomenon of urban decay is intensifying in two-thirds of domestic cities due to factors such as population decline, industrial stagnation, and deteriorating living environments. As a result, the importance of urban regeneration, bolstered by the role and support of the public sector, has grown to restore the economic, social, and cultural vitality of cities. Urban regeneration must strengthen the self-sustaining foundation of urban growth, enhance city competitiveness, and contribute to improving the quality of life for citizens by revitalizing local communities. To explore urban regeneration, its impact on city and national competitiveness, and the revitalization of declining cities, an interview was conducted with Mr. Shin Woo-hwa, Director of the Daegu Metropolitan City Regeneration Support Center.
 
1. What are the pros and cons of two approaches to urban regeneration: demolishing aging buildings for redevelopment and utilizing the potential of existing urban areas for sustainability, social integration, and environmental protection?
 Urban regeneration offers a significant advantage in that it gradually enhances the physical form of urban spaces, preserving their historical narratives. However, a drawback lies in the fact that it might not result in a completely transformed cityscape. On the other hand, redevelopment involves the simultaneous demolition of not only aged structures but also the alleys that compose a city, erasing the spatial history and traces, which is a disadvantage.
 
2. Why is urban regeneration necessary?
 Just as living organisms can age, fall ill, and die, they can also be revived. A city can be seen as a living organism. Neglecting dead spaces can lead to issues from crime to hygiene concerns, from various social and public health perspectives. Throughout history, cities often undergo significant changes following societal and cultural issues or major epidemics. Therefore, urban regeneration is deemed essential to infuse new vitality into decaying spaces.
 
3. What elements are necessary to achieve successful results in urban regeneration projects?
 The active awareness, interest, participation, and responsiveness of residents residing in the target areas of urban regeneration projects are crucial. Nonchalant locals is main causes of the project failure. For example, Cheonyeon-dong and Chunghyeon-dong in Seoul's Seodaemun District were areas facing building scarcity, aging infrastructure, and declining commercial areas. However, the Seoul Metropolitan Government's Regeneration Center actively employed strategies like resident briefings, resident participation initiatives, network establishment, and operations to listen to on-site voices. As a result, a cooperative association in culture, art, and architecture was established under resident leadership, achieving significant success with a membership of over 280 in the resident council. Thus, urban regeneration projects succeed and remain sustainable when driven by resident participation and leadership, making resident roles essential and diverse.
 
4. What is the process of understanding the city's culture, promoting citizen’s participation, and collecting feedbacks beyond physical environmental improvements take place?
 During the preparation stage of regeneration projects, municipal regeneration support centers, often operated by local governments, gather resident opinions. During the implementation phase of selected projects, on-site support centers typically play a role in collecting resident opinions.
 
5. South Korea and Japan share similar societal issues. In Japan, laws such as the Urban Regeneration Special Measures Law were enacted in the 1980s following the collapse of the economic bubble. This involves understanding the characteristics and conditions of each city, and attracting creative talents and businesses globally to enhance comprehensive urban capabilities in major cities. On the other hand, smaller cities actively unearth and utilize local distinctiveness and cultural traits. Is a similar approach being applied in our urban regeneration efforts? If not, how about considering such an approach?
 In South Korea, the Urban Regeneration Special Act was enacted following an incident where an elementary school student was sexually assaulted and murdered in an abandoned house within a redevelopment target area. While the approach varies based on location, project type, and scale, there are cases resembling Japan's example, and in the case of aged residential areas, the focus may lie on environmental improvement. The current government is emphasizing localized regeneration, highlighting the utilization of historical and cultural resources and nurturing local creators. This suggests that a similar approach as in Japan is being applied in our urban regeneration efforts.
 
 Currently, it is not common for the government to establish plans reflecting the voices of residents and allocate project funding for execution by the national and local governments over 4-5 years. Given that the experience and history of resident participation in government-executed projects are relatively short, many trials and errors have already taken place, and more are anticipated in the future. However, the lessons learned from failures will likely exceed expectations, and through these opportunities, individuals from young students to elderly residents experiencing urban regeneration will grow while learning about themselves. If many individuals understand what one can and should do for their neighborhood, urban regeneration will transfer from being a government-led initiative to becoming a natural responsibility for all of us to participate in and care about for our neighborhoods. With more individuals possessing this sense of ownership, the direction of urban regeneration approaches could shift from resident participation to residents taking the lead in formulating plans and requesting support from the government. Therefore, it is desirable that by addressing the current issues in urban regeneration and infusing vitality back into cities, the national competitiveness will be strengthened.
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