Sustainable aspects of Deoksugung-Gil Street

Sustainability' in the streetscape is one of the most important concerns for urban regeneration. Sustainable streets are designed and operated to create benefits relating to movement, ecology and community' that together support a broad sustainability agenda embracing environmental, social, and economical sustainability' (Greenberg 2009). The sustainable urban streets create more liveable communities (Bevan et al. 2007) and play an important role in forming the visual image of sustainable cities, as it is one of the most important factors which help in city success, and tourist attractions. In this regard, Deoksugung-gil street design has been a representative example of sustainable regeneration of a Historic Urban Landscape in terms of environmental, social and economic sustainability.

Environmental sustainability

Shared street development can achieve improved air quality' by' reducing car speed and volume and encouraging people to walk rather than drive, resulting in fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Creating a pleasant green pedestrian-oriented street was one of the main objectives of the street design. In addition to decreasing the traffic speed and volume, more street trees were planted, the walls of public buildings were demolished, and gardens and green spaces were created. The greens in the premises of public buildings were connected to the streets to increase the overall green space along the street, making people feel as if they were in a park (Figures 22.4 and 22.5). Zelkova trees were planted around the Deoksugung Palace wall to match the extant zelkova trees inside of the palace walls to enhance their presence and coverage. In this manner, trees were planted in abundance to link the street with green areas that were cut off due to the development of the surrounding area, thus forming a regional green network (Figures 22.4 and 22.5).

Due to the profusion of luxurious trees on the streets and gardens, the temperature in the summer is lower than in the surrounding area and urban heat island effects have been reduced. This extensive green coverage transforms CO, to the oxygen, removes fine dust, and constitutes habitat for birds and other wildlife. The permeable paving bricks persist abrasion, allow seeping of storm water into the ground, and improve the water table and vegetation of the area by storing water underground. Street trees play an important role in sustainable urban design by minimizing storm water runoff, reducing water pollution, and creating a greener and healthier appearance of the street. In this respect, Deoksugung-gil Street is a representative example of environmentally sustainable street development.

Social sustainability

The shared street concept sustains social well-being by making it fit enough for public walking and gathering where social interaction can occur on a regular basis and encourage outdoor activities (Rehan 2013). As a result of the development of Deoksugung-gil shared street, spaces for pedestrians were increased, resulting in an increase of various social activities in the street. The extended pedestrian areas in the shared street have become suitable places for performing street theatre, music and artistic exhibitions (Figure 22.7b). The streets play an important role for encouraging and introducing the unknown artists and the revival of traditional arts and promotion of information. During lunchtime in the week, the event of dosirak (it has two meanings of ‘lunch’ and ‘pleasure in the city’ in Korean) is held regularly on the streets and plazas (Figure 22.7c), where office workers in the surrounding area bring their lunches and eat together, turning the streetscape into community meeting and communication spaces. On the weekend, various city festivals and performances, such as ‘Night Walking in the Jeong-dong Area’ are held. In the winter time when there are not many people outdoors, the ‘Tree-Wrapping’ event led by city women group has been held to warm the cold winter atmosphere (Figure 22.7a). Thus, pedestrian-oriented streetscape design causes sustainable social development.

Events on the streets

Figure 22.7 Events on the streets: (a) tree-wrapping, (b) street performances, (c) dosirak event, and (d) street vendors.

Source: Sung-Kyun Kim

Many people who were living and working around the streets participated in the street design process, and they continued to organize many conununity' events and maintain the street after construction. The residents who participated often tend to feel that the sidewalk near their house as a continuation of their house and willingly take care of the street after construction. The street is much cleaner and better maintained than publicly managed roads in the municipality and have saved maintenance costs in the long-run. Deoksugung-gil Street has become a community plaza where people from Seoul and all of the Korea gather and communicate with each other. It is a representative example of socially sustainable street development.

Economical sustainability

The pedestrian-oriented street development may be considered as one of the least costly and most efficient strategies for constituting urban sustainability. Deoksugung-gil Street cost only about US$900,000 for construction and became a favourable space for the citizens. Compared with other public projects, construction of the shared street is relatively inexpensive considering the high effect and satisfaction of people. It is an example of a very successful project with very low public investments. Constituting and expanding the pedestrian areas in different urban scales, from a large district to a neighbourhood, and to a single-building, provide environmental quality' improvement in a short time. The shared street encourages many commercial activities such as street venders, etc., and the streets bring a lot of economic benefits to the surrounding commercial space (Figure 22.7d). The land value along the street has increased significantly. The Deoksugung-gil shared street has been proved to be a very' effective and representative example of an economically sustainable regeneration of a Historic Urban Landscape.

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