[EDITORIALS]Tread lightly on urban plans

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[EDITORIALS]Tread lightly on urban plans

After rehabilitation work on the Cheonggye stream in the center of Seoul was completed, both sides of the stream were filled with people who came to walk alongside the flowing water. The work has become a showcase answer to the question of how much a city can change after two years of restructuring, and attracted the attention of the world’s urban planning experts. Now that major metropolises, such as New York, London and Paris, plan to promote urban redevelopment, the Cheonggyecheon restoration is highly valued as a new model.
Now is the time to make active plans to utilize this as an opportunity for enhancing Seoul’s competitiveness. That is, in order to make the center of Seoul a distinctively attractive place, differentiated from other metropolises of the world, we have to utilize Cheonggyecheon in a dynamic way.
Firstly, the remodelling of central Seoul that started with the rebirth of Cheonggyecheon should be completely different from urban redevelopment plans of the past. In the past, mostly large buildings were built along streets, resulting in expressionless glass walls and thus depriving pedestrians of the pleasure of enjoying the cosy feeling of walking the downtown streets. Such an atmosphere is not suitable for the streets along the Cheonggye stream that are made for pedestrians. Moreover, the area along the stream, which is only around 20 meters in width except for areas in the lower stream, doesn’t fit in with high-rise buildings. It is urgent that a principle applicable to future redevelopment projects is established.
Seoul city plans to promote the redevelopment of areas from Cheonggye 3-ga to Cheonggye 9-ga next year. The city authority plans to rebuild buildings 15 meters back from their present location and expand the pedestrian thoroughfare along the stream on both sides. In that case, it is likely that small shops that deal with second-hand books, tools and building materials will vanish and large buildings will be built along the stream. This is not only against the spirit of the Cheonggye stream restoration but will also spoil the effort to create a distinctive urban attraction in Seoul.
The urban remodelling of Seoul that has started with the Cheonggye stream restoration should be promoted in a way that can restore taste to Seoul, the six-hundred-year old capital, and make it born again as a world-class metropolis.
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