Please join us for the Summer School Symposium which will bring together practitioners, academics and city stakeholders who specialize in making of resilient city and who will share their knowledge and experience on Friday 25th August 2017, start at 2pm - all welcome! 


RESILIENT CITIES THROUGH CULTURE: A symposium on Social infrastructure

Architecture goes beyond the aesthetic; understanding a place in human/social terms and questioning the context, purpose and consequences of architectural intervention should always be the starting point. This symposium aims to inspire and equip the students of the Imaginations summer school with a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the city of Seoul by engaging with professionals to spark the questions, ideas and dialogue that can lead towards a more responsive, sustainable and imaginative built environment.

By 2050 70% of the world’s population will live in cities, and they will live in cities their entire lives. One of our highest responsibilities as architects and planners today is to create sustainable solutions – providing for more people using fewer resources – for this rapidly growing urban population. Whereas global factors like climate change and knowledge-sharing may have no country borders, truly sustainable urban architectural solutions must recognise and be tailored to the specific climate and culture of a place and its people if they are to succeed.

The most successful sustainable urban areas work as social networks - as communities which benefit from collaborative effort and a shared sense of belonging. We are interested in Community, Culture and the Civic dimension of our cities. The intangible qualities of Place, Belonging and Identity. The concept of an engaged civil society shaping local affairs. And in how we as architects and planners can use these as guidance and tools to create good civic spaces with people at their centre as well as more resilient cities.

This symposium forms part of the student’s research, discussions and installation work during the summer school  where they will participate and create in short cross-cultural group projects which nurture the local context and  community, can be harvested by the city and which will benefit the wider and longer-term environment.


Session A: CITY LEVEL:  Planning for a declining (and aging) population

The city of Seoul accommodates 50% of South Korea’s population with over 25 million residents in the Seoul Greater Metropolitan area and 10 million in the city centre. Most megacities today are struggling to provide sufficient space for their growing number of residents. A decade ago this was Seoul’s situation; today the population of Seoul is declining. Despite being one of the largest cities in the world, to a visitor the city centre now seems spacious and vast, since the massive growth has happened predominantly in the surrounding suburbs. Does this mean that one of Seoul’s most significant challenges is how to create a thriving diverse and dispersed city with a declining population or a shifting pattern to its density? Will the city, or should the city intervene to rebalance and re-invent itself? Economically, politically, socially and technologically, what are the strategic drivers of a resilient, sustainable, successful Seoul, from local, national and global perspectives?

  • How do we plan for a declining, pattern-shifting, evolving city?
  • What is intelligent diversity and is it important?
  • Do taxpayers have the right to public space as well as public utilities and services?
  • What is “place” and what is “public”?

1. Markus Appenzeller, Managing Director MLA+, Amsterdam

2. Sung Hong Kim, Professor of architecture and urbanism University of Seoul, Seoul

3. Peter Maxwell, Director of Design London Legacy Development Corporation, London

Moderator:  Anne Marie Galmstrup, Director Imaginations Cross Cultures, London


Session B: NEIGHBOURHOOD LEVEL: Infrastructure and Identity 

Cities, especially those which have grown as quickly as Seoul has over the last 50 years, must rapidly adapt and expand their infrastructure. The city of Soul has seen its population grown ten-fold over that period to the current total of 25 million people in the Greater Metropolitan area. This extremely rapid growth, especially in the 1990s and in the suburban areas, also meant that infrastructure developed fast, often with a premium on speed of construction over long-term durability and integration. Maintenance of this infrastructure, both urban and building is a major challenge for the city today. This encompasses everything from upgrading sanitation to securing fast-track building projects against collapse to reinventing outdated commercial complexes or industrial areas to adapt from an industrial to a knowledge economy.

However, some of these neighbourhoods or building complexes now have a life and presence of their own and represent part of an important era in the history of Seoul and therefore perhaps also part of the cultural identity of the city. Are they assets to cherish, retain and repurpose? Do they have cultural value and meaning? Or can they be swept aside in the next phase of change and renewal?

  • What do regeneration, gentrification and preservation mean in a Korean context?
  • What are the elements that make up a “neighbourhood”?
  • Are human scale and a semi- public accessible ground floor important for a neighbourhood?
  • What is liveability in Seoul?

1. Haewon Shin, Director Lokaldesign, Seoul

2. Jon Lin, Director Rural Urban Framework, Hong Kong

3. Jaewoo Park, Principal Haeahn Architects, Seoul

Moderator: Sabine Storp, Director of Short courses Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, London


Session C: COMMUNITY LEVEL: Cultural Institutions and Civil Society.

The city of Seoul has seen a significant rise in building cultural institutions especially during the recent decade. Notably the Dongdaemun Design Plaza and the Asia Culture Center, but there has also been an increase in hosting international creative Biennales and there is a growing underground art scene. What is the planned purpose of investing in public cultural institutions and events? What do they contribute to the city’s sense of itself?

Cultural institutions are sometimes located and used to influence an urban area’s character, and to reflect back to local residents a sense of their shared identity and place in history. Cultural institutions as moderated public spaces can also be designed to provide people with a different form of engagement with each other in the public realm. Cultural institutions can stimulate and represent local communities. What is the role of cultural and public institutions in our cities? Are they intrinsic to nurturing a healthy and engaged civil society? How does contemporary art of all forms shape our perception of a place and its people?

  • Does Seoul have an identity, or many?
  • How “public” is a cultural institution and how does it interact with the city or its citizens?
  • Should cultural institutions play a role in their local community or cater for a specific community?
  • What is “community” and what is “civil society”?

1. Alexandre Orion, Multimedia Artist, Sao Paulo

2. Jiyoon Lee, Historian, Curator and Director SUUM project, Seoul

3. Hyungmin Pai, Historian, Critic and Curator, Seoul

Moderator: Robin Cole-Hamilton, Director Imaginations Cross Cultures, London


Closing Session

All panelists and moderators

Closing Remarks: Jae Uk Chong, Professor Dankook University 

Moderator: Robin Cole-Hamilton, Director Imaginations Cross Cultures, London



The symposium will be open to the public and held at:

Seoul Art Space Mullae
30, Mullae-dong 1 Ga, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul




The summer school will take place between 21st August - 6th September 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. The theme “Resilient Cities through Culture” will here be studied by students from universities in the UIAs worldwide network. The summer school will be initiated by city walks, sketch assignments and a symposium in order for students to get to know each other and the city. Students will then be divided into mixed teams and work more closely with developing ideas for resilient city structures through culture in a South Korean context. The student teams will be working with specific sites throughout the city of Seoul from a shared base in a neighbourhood Mullea Dong during the two weeks.


The summer school work will be presented and exhibited as part of the UIA world congress on Tuesday 5th September 2017.

The exhibition will be on display at:

COEX Convention & Exhibition Center
513 Yeongdong-daero, Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea