Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Citizen of a City that Cares

The city of Edmonton, Canada, a few years ago launched a campaign: "Hello, How are you?" A survey made, resulted in 18 percent of the citizens saying that they felt alienated while living in the city— the reason for the campaign. Followed shortly by 'Hello, Let's eat!' and 'bench buddy', let's sit and talk, opportunities to converse with others facilitated by benches spread throughout the city. Various social programs were implemented. As such, urban policy is becoming more and more caring.

Korea is no different. The stairs that come down to the plaza from Cheongnyangni station in Seoul stand out. At the beginning and at the end of the stairway, you can see materials of a different kind and color are used. At the flat landing in the middle of the stairway likewise we have a different design and color. Why so? There is a reason.  The elderly may have poor eyesight, and it is to help them to distinguish the stairs and the flat landing and help prevent falls. 

Guard fences are also installed along the streets to protect pedestrians from cars in the event they leave the street and enter the sidewalk area. Tall adults don't  have a problem but young children with guard fence height may not be visible. When installing the guard fence, care should be taken to ensure that the child standing behind the fence is visible.

If one is observant it is easy to see whether there is caring consideration for all the citizens, in the different  parts of the city. Not only healthy people live in cities. The weak live together with the strong. Some people have difficulty walking, like the elderly, while others are blind or deaf. Color blindness, poor vision, pregnant women, and children walking must remain a concern for those in city government.

Urban design should be done with the weak in mind. If only the strong are the concern of planning and design we can't say we are living in the real world. Without concern for the weak, our cities become a jungle; society lacks sensitivity, and the weak become the prey of the strong.

Cities where the weak live together is not only left to the heads of government, city officials, experts and organizations. All citizens must examine, work together to fix and bring about change. Let's start by not only thinking of my situation but the situation of others. And to check to see if it's a city where I can live comfortably as an old man not many years from now.

There is a need to take a stroll through the city with your grandfather and grandmother. Take your niece and walk along the street. Then you will know how to design a city. The moment this happens, you're a caring city architect and respected citizen.

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