Thursday, 13 September 2012

Research - The Study of Housing Renewal for Neighbourhood Regeneration in Ansan

Image by Networking City/ Cover page of the research paper

After 6 months efforts, the research paper ‘The Study of Housing Renewal for Neighbourhood Regeneration in Ansan’ was submitted to Centre for Creating Livable Village in Ansan, one of famous local NGO in South Korea, by this blog. The aim of the research is to understand the history of urban development of Ansan, a satellite city of Seoul, to identify the city’s characteristics by comparison with other cities in Korea, to investigate the present conditions of four low-rise housing areas through a field research and provide a planning guideline of neighbourhood regeneration for the NGO and the city government.
Image is taken from Naver/ The collision between high-rise apartments and low-rise housings

Ansan is a city in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea and a part of the Seoul Metropolitan Area. Originally, it was a small town on the coast of Yellow Sea until 1960’s. In 1970’s, Korean national government decided to develop it for the industrial city that contained small polluted factories. The small town was rapidly changed its shape as the first modern designed city (it means grid system) in Korea and lots of people have moved to the city for jobs and economic benefits since 1980’s.

At one time, Ansan was a symbol of successful economic achievement of Korea, however, now the city is facing a hard time that the numbers of closed factory are increasing and inextricable social problems related to the declining industry such as unstable employment, low income family, high residential mobility, poor residential environment and weak community networks.

Even though many researchers have been interested in this city, there was no challenge to clarify the relationship between the urban development process of Ansan and its impact on the change of residential areas. Also, there is no appropriate strategy to reorganize old, high dense, low-rise housing areas that the residents cannot support money for the redevelopment by high-rise apartments which has been the main development tool in Korea.
Image by Networking City/ The area and population of five cities

Image by Networking City/ The population structures of five cities

Therefore, Centre for Creating Livable Village, an independent organization for improving environment of residential areas based on local governments’ support, as a leading local NGO, set up a plan with young researchers to foster practical framework and in-detail analysis rather than grandiloquent words. The research paper is the first outcome of the plan.

Image by Networking City/ The diagram of urban programme in Ansan

Image by Networking City/ The diagram of housing development process in Ansan

The research is composed of six chapters; Introduction, The characteristics of urban development and the change of housing areas in Ansan, The comparative analysis of urban characteristics between Ansan and four neighbour cities, The case study of four low-rise housing areas in Ansan, The strategy for neighbourhood regeneration and Conclusion.

Image by Networking City/ The diagram of house that people live in basement in Bono-dong (One of low-rise housing area in Ansan)

Image by Networking City/ The street view of Seonbu-dong (One of low-rise housing area in Ansan)
It will be used as a policy reference for the NGO and the Ansan city government, and hope it could be a tangible steppingstone for the future regeneration plan of the city.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Evelyn Grace Academy by Zaha Hadid Architects - Alternative way to consider the future of our school

Image is taken from Zaha Hadid Architects / The main entrance of Evelyn Grace Academy

Last September, during Open City event in London, Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton was included in the list of the event and it was a nice opportunity to visit recent Zaha’s work. Hundreds of people came to the school and agreed it is an unusual architecture and special experience. After the visiting, it was thought that writing an article about Evelyn Grace Academy would be worth to understand new trend of education buildings in UK and Zaha’s approach for the type of architecture. Therefore, when Korean Institute of Educational Facilities asked to contribute an article about recent UK education building, it was easy to decide topic of the article.
Through the article, there are three main arguments to look deeply at Evelyn Grace Academy. Firstly, from the point of urban policy, this building should be understood as a flagship project in a devastated urban area and as an education led urban regeneration. ARK Schools, an education charity and the founder of the school, believes that education is an important method to cut the cycle of poverty. This charity supports to increase education quality in impoverished areas and has set up 11 schools in UK. Evelyn Grace Academy has been planned for not only a stunning shape of architecture in old affordable housing areas but also finding a possibility to overcome poverty and inequality in Brixton that had no secondary school.

Image by Networking City / Social housing in Brixton

Secondly, as considering the internal relationships, this school needs to be examined as a small society, furthermore, as a city. Although school (especially university) generally has been understood as a city because lots of students and staffs stay in, Evelyn Grace Academy which has four schools in the building is much more complex and complicate than other schools. Definitely, there should be more delicate considerations to make discreet management system and adequate collaboration between the schools from the early stage of the building design. As a result of the considerations, the corridors of this building, wider than normal school corridors, play a role like streets in small town by variation of visual effects, diverse volumes of internal space and good connection with internal and external space, and it leads more social activities of students.


Image by Networking City / Inside corridor of Evelyn Grace Academy

Image by Networking City / Spatial Experience in Evelyn Grace Academy

Lastly, Evelyn Grace Academy is a good example to show how architects fight against the common ideas of ‘school’, one of the most quantificational and standardized architectural type, within limited budget and area with keeping their design ideas and its final quality. There are many regulations and basic standards for the school building like suitable class size, noise and so on. The architects had have to consider how dynamic form and space make a cool relationship with standardized room size, basic class unit and needed clear functionality. Z shape of Evelyn Grace Academy, which is very unusual among school projects, was suggested for complex programs and effective using the site rather than Zaha’s design tendency. (Interview with Lars Teichmann, Project Architect) Architects generally do not want to make Z shape because it is hard to solve functional problems in the plan even though it is a private house. But in this project, Z shape of the building makes a clear distinctive point in contrast to other school projects and the herald symbol showing the change of the most deprived area in the UK.

Image is taken from Zaha Hadid Architects / Site circulation and Composition

Some people have a cynical view for Zaha’s works. I was one of them.
However, after visiting Evelyn Grace Academy, when her project is seen on website or magazine, the project attracts me more than before.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Workshop- Mapping Social Interactions Online, Oxford Internet Institute

Last Friday (9th March), Oxford Internet Institute (OII) opened Internet research methodology workshop- Mapping Social Interactions Online at OII seminar room. It was one of OII’s successive workshop ‘Beyond Survey’ in 2011-2012.

This workshop was mainly composed of two parts. Dr Mark Graham led one part with the topic of Mapping with GIS and Dr Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon gave a lecture of social networks. Because the most participants are doing interdisciplinary researches which have a link to internet studies and they might not know well the methodologies of the studies, two lecturers introduced fundamental information and some basic program tools for further researches.

The research interest of Dr Mark Graham could be understood as ‘Intersection between ICT (Internet Communication Technology) and Geography’. He introduced GIS to catch and visualize invisible internet flows and social networks, and explained the concept of projection, the difference between Quantitative map and Qualitative map and some kinds of GIS programmes. While some professional GIS programmes like Arc GIS need a certain period of time to learn and utilize it, online mapping sites are more accessible for researchers and easy to create a map, therefore, he showed some online GIS websites and gave a demonstration to make a mapping on Google map by

Below lists are the programmes and the sites which he mentioned during his lecture.
Arc GIS, Quantum GIS, TileMill, Geodesix, Mango Map, Geo IQ, BatchGeo
If you would like to know more about GIS, CASA website and their blogs should be useful.

Dr Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon provided a brief lecture about the structure of social networks. She drew simple but crucial questions like ‘What makes online networks different from offline networks?’ before starting a presentation, and she tried to resolve the questions. After introducing a historical timeline of network research, the importance of different social networks within one society and its meaning were suggested. During the lecture, she emphasized the implication what lies behind networks with multiple components and innumerable relationships of networks, and how characteristics of networks can be changed by these things. Like Dr Mark Graham, she showed some software to analyse online social networks and references which contain the contents of network theory.

The lists are below:
Social network analysis : methods and applications (1994)
Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning About a Highly Connected World (2010)
Networks: An Introduction (2010)
Exploratory Social Network Analysis with Pajek (2005)
Understanding Social Networks: Theories, Concepts, and Findings (2012)
NodeXL, Pajek, igraph,

This workshop was a good opportunity to know different approaches toward a similar topic not only research methodology but also its theoretical backgrounds. The lectures were energetic and provided interactive presentations. Some participants might want to see practical research processes of OII and how these methodologies can apply to their researches such as visualizing a relationship between online social interactions and geographical location. But, the lecturers agreed visualizing the relationship, which is my best attractive point, is a perplexing process and it needs a further development.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Review- When Atoms Meet Bits: Social Media, the Mobile Web and Augmented Revolution by Nathan Jurgenson

Recently, we have been watching the rise of massive collective action across the world. Many researchers and journals try to explain this phenomenon through diverse reasons, but all these contributions are based on that the development of technology and the spread of internet stimulate the flow of the collective action like the Arab Uprising and Occupy Movement.

Until the Egyptian Revolution, the researchers had focused on how the internet technology impacts on the collective action and how social media organizes public into public spaces. However, during a series of demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and a long occupation of St.Paul in London, people have witnessed the powerful combination of virtual space and real space, and internet communication and public space. And then, the focus has been moving to the interactive relationship between on and off world.  

My supervisor Dr. Andrew Hudson-Smith introduced an interesting article to provide an alternative understating of the interactive relationship on his blog Digital Urban. In the article ‘When Atoms Meet Bits: Social Media, the Mobile Web and Augmented Revolution', Future Internet 2012, 4(1), Jurgenson argues the global spread of massive collective actions shows the momentum to overcome ‘digital dualism’ which means virtual world and real world are independent and separate spaces. Instead of ‘digital dualism’, he suggests ‘augmented reality’ that implies on-off line together. Generally, ‘augmented reality’ has been understood as the term to indicate the virtual reality by computer software. But, in this article, the author explains augmented reality as another dimension through the combination of the digital and physical, and insists that the recent massive collective actions should be understood as ‘augmented revolution’ instead of ‘SNS Revolution’ or ‘Internet Revolution’.

Before his article, Manuel Castells suggested the terminology ‘Hybrid space’ which explains strong communicative relationships between the internet space and the physical space in his LSE lecture 'Social Movements in the Age of the Internet' last year. Castells introduced ‘Hybrid space’ as a public sphere (the word of Habermas) process to exchange public opinions and consolidate the identity of the collective actions by exposing its characteristics to public. While Castells regards ‘Hybrid space’ as a formless and multi-layered process, ‘augmented reality’ of Jurgenson could be seen an outcome by the interactions between on and off worlds.

 This article is not long but suggests some notable points to understand current social changes. You can find it and freely download here.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Do the wealthy countries need to have duties of justice to aid the global poor?

Every week, there is a controversial discussion for global political topics in the class of GLOBAL JUSTICE, CITIZENSHIP, AND DEMOCRACY, UCL. Last week, we discuss two different approaches to Global Poor and its meanings. Networking City presented the seminar topic and argued the duties of justice for global poor.  

- Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day
- According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty

Basic Premise
- Duties of justice are correlative to rights and more stringent than duties of charity.
- Duties of justice are to change pattern of enforceable entitlements (structural/institutional)

Argument for having duties of justice to support poor countries
- The deprived condition of the developing countries is not because they are unlucky or incompetent, but because they are forced to be sacrificed for the wealthy of the developed countries.
- Unfair and irrational international structures are needed to replace based on the pattern of entitlements. 
Critiques against Justice based approach for Global Poor
- 1) Level of total population living on less than $1 per day are decreasing during 1950-1992
- 2) The domestic institutions of poor countries play an important part too.
Ex) dictatorship, corruption
- 3) Demands of justice are, fundamentally, a matter of "not harming" others, as opposed to ‘helping them’.

Counter against its critiques of Justice based approach for Global Poor
1-1) Statistics like total population living on less than $1 per day show that overall the world as a whole is showing signs of improvement. However, other data (such as income gap between wealthy countries and developing countries) clearly show that global inequalities have continued widen considerably. It can be argued that the gap between wealthy worlds and poor worlds is the most significant in the history. (Potter, 2008)

1-2) Absolute poverty is decreasing but relative poverty is growing. We need to identify poverty by the measure of ‘quality of life’ rather than ‘income’ (from GNP – to HDI*)

2-1) Bad Samaritans(the developed countries) are using corruption(domestic problem) as a convenient justification for the reduction in their aid commitments, despite the fact that cutting aid will hurt the poor more than it will a country’s dishonest leaders, especially in the poor countries (Chang, 2007)

2-2) Many countries that achieved a significant economic development like Japan, China and Korea suffered wide spread corruptions.

2-3) Sub-Saharan countries which show the highest poverty level had a good economic growth during 1960 and 1970 (annual 1.6% income growth) But, after free market policies which were forced by WorldBank and IMF, their vulnerable manufacturing industries were destroyed and then, they had to back to primary industries like cocoa and coffee. (ex. Senegal) (Chang, 2010)

3-1) The developed countries are still harming to the developing countries by unfair international orders. Modifying its structures and orders is a matter of "not harming" others, as opposed to ‘helping them’.

3-2) Poverty leads lots of other problems which link to human rights such as Gender problem, Child labour, Political pressure and Racial superiority. Therefore, supporting poor countries based on ‘duties of justice’ is a key of ‘not harming’ other people as well as helping other’s human rights.

* Human Development Index (HDI)
- From 2001, United Nations has used HDI to measure the overall achievements in country in three basic dimensions of human development. HDI is measured by life expectancy, educational attainment, plus adjusted income per capita in purchasing power parity (PPP) US dollars.