Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Friday, August 17, 2012

City solutions and two examples from Seoul, South Korea

Photograph by Leon Chew Affluent City Seoul, South Korea Seoul's electrifying growth, from impoverished war-torn capital in the 1950s to economic powerhouse, has turned its cityscape into a dense grid of housing and office towers. Its transformation proves that rapid growth can bring rapid wealth.

Photograph by Greg Girard Seoul, South Korea Older housing, meaning anything built before 1980, is slated to be demolished in Seoul's Geumho neighborhood, making room for more apartment towers.

I'm posting this pictures from
to let us think about the beauty of the first photograph but the reality of urban life that it suggests.
Here, I'm sharing an excerpt from the article by Robert Kunzig, " The City Solution":

The tide of urbanization must be stopped,*Ebenezer) Howard argued, by drawing people away from the cancerous metropolises into new, self-contained "garden cities." The residents of these happy little islands would feel the "joyous union" of town and country. They'd live in nice houses and gardens at the center, walk to work in factories at the rim, and be fed by farms in an outer greenbelt—which would also stop the town from expanding into the country. When one town filled to its greenbelt—32,000 people was the right number, Howard thought—it would be time to build the next one. In 1907, welcoming 500 Esperantists to Letchworth, the first garden city, Howard boldly predicted (in Esperanto) that both the new language and his new utopias would soon spread around the world. He was right about the human desire for more living space but wrong about the future of cities: It's the tide of urbanization that has spread around the world. In the developed countries and Latin America it has nearly crested; more than 70 percent of people there live in urban areas. In much of Asia and Africa people are still surging into cities, in numbers swollen by the population boom. Most urbanites live in cities of less than half a million, but big cities have gotten bigger and more common. In the 19th century London was the only city of more than five million; now there are 54, most of them in Asia. 
 And here's one more change since then: Urbanization is now good news. Expert opinion has shifted profoundly in the past decade or two. Though slums as appalling as Victorian London's are now widespread, and the Victorian fear of cities lives on, cancer no longer seems the right metaphor. On the contrary: With Earth's population headed toward nine or ten billion, dense cities are looking more like a cure—the best hope for lifting people out of poverty without wrecking the planet. One evening last March, Harvard economist Edward Glaeser appeared at the London School of Economics to promote this point of view, along with his new book, Triumph of the City. Glaeser, who grew up in New York City and talks extremely fast, came heavily armed with anecdotes and data. "There's no such thing as a poor urbanized country; there's no such thing as a rich rural country," he said. 
A cloud of country names, each plotted by GDP and urbanization rate, flashed on the screen behind him. Mahatma Gandhi was wrong, Glaeser declared—India's future is not in its villages, it's in Bangalore. Images of Dharavi, Mumbai's large slum, and of Rio de Janeiro's favelas flashed by; to Glaeser, they were examples of urban vitality, not blight. Poor people flock to cities because that's where the money is, he said, and cities produce more because "the absence of space between people" reduces the cost of transporting goods, people, and ideas. Historically, cities were built on rivers or natural harbors to ease the flow of goods. But these days, since shipping costs have declined and service industries have risen, what counts most is the flow of ideas.

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