World Design Capital 2010
Since Seoul has been designated the World Design Capital 2010, many have begun to turn their attention to this amazing city, which is joining Paris and Milan as a globally recognized center of design. Seoul is rapidly evolving into a state-of-the-art design city where beauty and refinement can be enjoyed everywhere.
A Design Evolution
In the past, Seoul’s overall design was what one might characterize as “hard”—centered on a paradigm of efficiency. Today this is changing. Encouraged by Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon’s belief that “design is everything,” Seoul is currently transforming itself into a “soft city” where culture and design play equally pivotal roles in its identity.
In 2007, the Seoul Design Headquarters was launched to give the capital a face-lift, remold city scenery and support the design industry. Design policies were devised to help re-create Seoul as an eco-city with an outstanding natural environment; a cultural hub of refinement, dignity and historical significance; and a hi-tech, knowledge-based capital led by highly educated citizens and a top-notch IT infrastructure.
These policies additionally ensure that the new design is aesthetically pleasing, economical and functional, all of which will enhance the quality of life for Seoulites.
Realizing The Vision of “Design Seoul”
The term “Design Seoul” was coined to demonstrate the dedication and passion of the Seoul Metropolitan Government and to draw global attention to the city. The four key goals of Design Seoul—airiness, integration, collaboration and sustainability—are at work in the form of numerous projects designed to bring about the new soft city.
One such project, the Hangang Renaissance Project, is under way, livening up the Hangang riverside area with leisure and cultural features such as unique themed parks and an international sea ferry terminal. Through this project, the Hangang River is becoming a cultural and economic hub for both citizens and tourists.
At the same time, the Namsan Renaissance Project is converting much of the city’s major landscape into a heritage-rich ecological park. The project is focused on restoring Namsan Mountain’s ecological system and its historic assets and improving its scenic views by 2020.
Through Design Seoul, streets and buildings are also undergoing a “total design” renovation to make the city more people-friendly and efficient. Some 50 streets have been designated as “Design Seoul Streets,” and by October 2010 they will be fully functional for traffic and pedestrians.
The Haechi, Seoul’s newly coined symbol, is playing a key role in promoting the new face of the city both domestically and internationally. A mythical beast that once protected the royal palaces of Seoul, the Haechi has a long tradition and connection with the city.
Uniting People Through Design
While rejuvenating the city itself, Design Seoul is also working to promote the spirit of art among Seoul’s residents. In addition to creating an Urban Gallery Project, which places a rich array of public art on display for Seoulites to enjoy, the Seoul Design Olympiad (SDO), a citywide annual design festival, was established to promote culture and bring people together.
The second SDO, held in October 2009, featured 65 successful programs over the course of 21 days. During this time, Seoul’s Jamsil Olympic Stadium became an innovative showcase for citizens from each city district displaying their creations at the “i-Brand Marketplace.” At the same time, an international design conference drew global experts to exchange views, and themed exhibitions and design competitions attracted some big names in the industry. The SDO was so successful it drew in twice the number of participants it had the previous year.
All these events collectively fulfill SDO’s overarching theme of i-DESIGN—“i” standing for the individual, the Internet and innovation. Together they have presented Seoul as a city that provides comfortable living and a creative atmosphere that inspires the spirit of design in all its citizens.
A Global Design Hub
Seoul has established its design policies to create a balance between the public design of the city and the development of the design industry. The Seoul government has allocated some US$102 billion to build four major design industry areas, and will invest about US$98 million to improve the design capabilities of small and medium enterprises. To nurture the new local design force, a myriad of programs fostering art and design have been implemented, while other design-supporting facilities are being built, including the Design Medical Center—an old hospital in the Dongdaemun area that was converted into a research and education facility.
Meanwhile, the 85,000-square-meter Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), which forms the core infrastructure of Seoul’s design industry, will be completed in 2011 to mark the city’s rebirth as a design capital. Most recently, the 37,000-square-meter Dongdaemun History & Culture Park, adjacent to the DDP, was partially opened to the public in October 2009. The cultural complex is complemented by a park in which the relics and historical remains discovered during excavation are on display.
Every Design Seoul initiative is intended to not only recast Seoul as a city of global renown, but also to bolster Seoul’s economy and bring cultural benefits to its citizens. With united efforts from the government, the design industry and residents, Seoul is becoming a worldwide hub of creativity and innovation, with design further increasing the brand value of the city.
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