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Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Seoul waterways and urbanism - the full story

As Typhoon Khanun slashes through Korea, please all be safe.

The other day in KOTE, during my lecture "Flow and order - Seoul waterways and other urban stitches", we've seen among other things how Seoul has been struggling from day one with floods, how its waterways play a vital role in managing them, and how this role is bound to become even more critical with climate change, even if the city keeps increasing its natural defenses. 

Again, I thank the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch for inviting me, Julie AHN for making the event possible in our beloved KOTE*, and every single member of the audience for coming. Again, sorry to have drowned you all under my overworded slides. RASKB will shortly put the video of the disaster on its YouTube channel**, and I'll add the link here as soon as it is available.

If you really want to take your time and read every line of every slide, the full presentation is here:

Shaped by its considerable natural assets, Seoul turned into a major city by negating them in a constant fight to tame a nature capable of major destruction but unable to cope with urban expansion. In this young millennium, this war has evolved into a love story, and Seoulites are reopening an intimate dialog with waterways that even under their concrete prisons kept drawing Seoul's maps, telling the city's history and their own stories. Yet urban planners must avoid overflowing it with storytelling. If Seoul has no future without curated natural spaces, this shapeshifter of a city will always require unscripted parts.

Introduction: The city's lungs and bloodstream
1) The Way of Water vs The Highway of 'Progress'
2) The Way Forward (?) - 'Recreation', 'Renaissance', 'Emotion'
Conclusion: Storytelling vs the Unscripted Seoul

I'll drop below
a few not to wordy samples from this 56-slide trainwreck:

On Seoul's 'dong' / neighborhoods / villages, shared water, time capsules...

Angukdongcheon, the visitor that stopped at KOTE's door the other night 

Seoul choked by concrete (things have improved since, looking forward to fresh data from the Seoul Institute

An extreme climate, major changes and challenges

On the menu: The city's lungs and bloodstream / The Way of Water vs The Highway of 'Progress' / The Way Forward (?) - 'Recreation', 'Renaissance', 'Emotion' / Storytelling vs the Unscripted Seoul

Seoul Village 2023
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* always heartwrenching to see KOTE's old odong namu / princess tree down following that recent storm, but its baby is doing well, and that's a reminder that water brings life, destruction, and communities closer together.

** RASKB YouTube channel:
   Video of the disaster:

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