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Desertified – reurbanification

Part 2 Project 2012
Seonju Kim
Korea National University of Arts Seoul South Korea
This project is about Seoul after its period of massive development. Through the urban desert phenomenon that is slowly taking hold in parts of the city not yet touched by large-scale redevelopment, this project searches for alternatives to Seoul’s urban condition.

Redevelopment has meant only one thing in Seoul so far – build a apartment complex. The population has almost doubled in the last 40 years, therefore urban planning has concentrated largely on high density developments to solve the housing problem. 46% of Seoul’s residential areas were constructed between 1960 and 1980. As 20-30 years later town redevelopment plans came to predominate which changed low-rise housing blocks into high-rise apartment complexes.

But what would happen if these high density development plans became obsolete? Population has started to decrease and the housing supply is currently on par with demand. Some redevelopment plans have already been canceled.

The urban desert phenomenon is not so significant yet. But it is not difficult to find empty lots in residential blocks. I am especially interested in the typical towns developed between 1960 and 1980. These towns are characterized by their grid pattern which consists of 10x10m lots and were built in the same way everywhere in Seoul.

In order to explore the possibilities and extract the potential of the urban desert in the context of the city, I brought some specific themes to the scenario - plot changing, vegetation, urban farming, use of remaining structures, infrastructure, parking problems and parasite houses.

As an alternative to massive urban planning I paid attention to the way people spontaneously change their circumstances. People tend to build temporary structures around their houses rather than make proper renovations, which are integrated with existing buildings. The goal of ‘temporary structure catalogue’ is to understand these sporadic and spontaneous building activities as architectural processes.

Rather than following a tabula rasa plan which is typical for development, this project suggests an alternative way to reurbanify the city by reacting with the existing condition. Residential blocks are transformed into new urban landscape as their neglected and abandoned spaces are reappropriated through these urban interventions.

Seonju Kim

Tutor(s)
Prof Christian Schweitzer
2012
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