SEOUL/ Walkability as New Modernity: Comparison with Hong Kong’s Elevated Walkway System
The concern on “walkability” and “pedestrian priority” begins to emerge from civil movements in 1993. Since then the Seoul Metropolitan Government has made continuous effort to improve pedestrian experience. In the chosen time frame of our study – Mayor Park Won-soon’s term of office, Seoul government has visioned on a 10-project scheme that is based on the creation of a pedestrian-friendly city. The scheme includes scope of works such as turning streets to car-free ones, creating pedestrian friendly area, such as the transit mall, and adding escalators and elevators to subway station . Though the initial point of “walkability” stems from the people, it has however turned towards the government working on fragmented projects to enhance individual bits of the street.
On the other hand, the elevated walkway system in Hong Kong also started with private stakeholders, then gone through a long period of time to be recognised by the government, but it has always consider the “push and pull” factors of the private and the public. The initial idea of the elevated walkway was to connect hotel and shopping malls, so that it gives convenience to the customers . After being recognized by the government as a urban design strategy, it gradually formed a network of public space owned by private sector and the government, that includes the benefit of retail shops along the routes .
The Korea Transport Institute in 2015 has suggested the “promotion of more active public participation in its pedestrian project and the creation of a governance system” , which I agree as an crucial next step for the Seoul government. Apart from promoting public participation, it is more important to create a governance system, like one in Hong Kong. Because in the course of making decision for a governance system, there would definitely involve debate of the public, private and the government, hence a more well-rounded solution or adaptation of the concept of “walkability” could be set for Seoul.
- Lim, Sam-jin, editor. “Issue 18: The Improvement of the Pedestrian Environment in Korea: Policies and Achievements.” KOTI Knowledge Sharing Report, The Korea Transport Institute, 2015.
- 木下, 光 et al. “香港セントラル地区を中心に広がるペデストリアンデッキネットワークの形成プロセスに関する研究” Journal of Architecture and Planning (Transactions of AIJ), vol. 79, no. 705, 2014, pp. 2479–2486.