We Solve Problems Around Us on Our Own! (1)

Citizens are the people who best know the various discomforts experienced while living in a city. There is a limit for public officers and administrative experts who try to close the distance to solve the problems felt by the citizens. In 2015, the SMG introduced “design governance” as a public design project to receive reports from people on public problems and improve the problems with a team comprising citizens, experts, and businesses. All the progress and outcomes of the project were made public on the website to be spread and utilized flexibly.


Anyone with any ideas to solve public problems can make suggestions on the official website of design governance. To date, 25 projects have been completed in the fields of welfare, safety, economy, health, and environment/sanitation. / Data provided by the SMG

This episode introduces major examples of design governance. Public problems witnessed in a variety of areas include the arrangement of braille maps for the visually impaired at Seoul Land, collision between pedestrians and bicycles at Hangang Park, and noise complaints between apartment floors. Let’s check out how such problems are being solved and moderated by creative and practical methods.

What does design governance comprise?

OPEN: All design processes are open to citizens.

OPINION: Opinions of people are taken during the entire process.

OPPORTUNITY: Citizens and experts are given opportunities to participate in all projects.

EFFICIENCY: Regional resources are used to pursue the efficiency of the budget and resources.

PUBLIC: The results are shared with and evaluated by the public.

Braille map design — Seoul Land (2015) / Seoul Children’s Grand Park (2018)

I am a visually impaired with low vision. I love to play at amusement parks like other kids, but I have to rely on my family members or friends because they don’t have information for the persons with visual impairment. I want to enjoy amusement parks without assistance. Proposer Jeong Ye-rim


The braille map at Seoul Land adopted a method of explaining the complex structure of Seoul Land using seven directions by stretching out the right hand (wrist, palm, thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger, little finger), considering the fact that it is comfortable for visually impaired persons to move based on specific patterns like clockwise and counterclockwise movements. / Data provided by the SMG, photo by: 516 Studio

Visually impaired persons in Korea point out that they have extreme difficulty planning outdoor activities because they cannot check information about unfamiliar places in advance. To these people, leisure activities require courage and a challenging mind. There is a lack of convenience facilities for persons with disabilities, and uncomfortable situations occur one after another if they are not assisted by a companion. Amusement parks are a representative example. In reality, amusement parks do not provide materials for the visually impaired.

What about overseas? Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland provide very detailed and beneficial braille guidebooks for the visually impaired. In particular, Tokyo Disneyland has a package that contains a braille guidebook, an information booklet on available rides and precautions for different kinds of disabilities, promotional materials made in braille to provide resort news, and an audiobook CD. Furthermore, it offers a postal mail service that sends the materials to the visually impaired before they visit in light of the fact they need to spend some time reading the braille text and drawing the map in their mind. 


Braille map and braille menu at Seoul Land. They used font styles, sizes, and colors appropriate for persons with low vision. / Data provided by the SMG, photo by: 516 Studio

The SMG produced a special guidebook for the visually impaired by selecting Seoul Land as the target site in 2015. Besides the basic information about the overall topography and locations of representative rides, the guidebook also indicates the locations of rides that are not usable because of safety reasons and benches for resting. Braille menus and manuals to receive the visually impaired were developed for all restaurants at Seoul Land to reduce the difficulty of ordering food.

Using the know-how acquired while designing the braille map for Seoul Land, the SMG promoted an in-depth braille map project for the Seoul Children’s Grand Park in 2018. Whereas the braille map for Seoul Land focused on indicating locations and providing information about rides, the braille map for the Seoul Children’s Grand Park was made as a tactile map for children to touch and feel images of available spaces, animals, and plants. In addition, voice guides using QR codes were added to help visually impaired persons who lack the ability to read braille. The guidebook was designed to have diverse content to be kept as a souvenir or used as a learning tool after visiting the park. The two guidebooks of Seoul Land and Seoul Children’s Grand Park are handed out for free at each information center.


Braille map for the Seoul Children’s Grand Park. The braille map and experience cards available at the park help the visually impaired enjoy the park. / Data provided by the SMG, photo by: 516 Studio

Design to encourage safe bicycle riding at night in Hangang Park (2016)

I love riding bicycles against the cool night breeze at Hangang Park. However, with the increasing number of high-performance bicycles these days, I am worried about colliding with pedestrians because there are many bicycle riders riding at fast speeds and because it is hard to see at night. I witnessed an actual accident once. Proposer Choi Seung-hyeon

The number of bicycle accidents is increasing in Korea with the increasing supply of bicycles. Particularly, the frequency of night accidents has increased the most. The project team analyzed examples of bicycle-friendly countries like the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Japan and conducted a field survey at Yeouido and Banpo Hangang Park. The project keyword is interactive.* A safety service was implemented to make Hangang Park safe for all bicycle riders and pedestrians. *Interactive is a compound word of “inter” and “active,” meaning bidirectional.


The safety service uses a facility to help pedestrians use safe crosswalks and bicycle riders ride at appropriate speeds. / Data provided by the SMG

“Parenthesis Lights” inform pedestrians when bicycles approach and provide signals for riders to slow down when there are pedestrians.

“Comma Lights” (top) guide bicycle riders to slow down by informing pedestrians in crosswalks. Bright lights are turned on at night to call the attention of both bicycles and pedestrians (bottom). / Data provided by the SMG

Communication design to resolve conflicts among neighbors (2016, 2018)

I was under a lot of stress because of the noise made by neighbors in an apartment. Besides the noise issue, there are many unspeakable problems such as cigarette smoke and parking. I want to find a wise method of communicating with neighbors and resolving conflicts amicably. Proposer Sim Seong-eun


Using the communication design development toolkit to resolve conflicts among neighbors / Data provided by the SMG

While 60% of people in Seoul live in multi-family housings, conflicts among neighbors in the building are intensifying with noise between floors, cigarette smoke, and parking. When such conflicts among neighbors occur, the relationship among neighbors sours, causing difficulty in resolving them. Therefore, it is important to prevent conflicts in advance.

The SMG selected the Seodaemun-gu Cheonyeon Tteuranchae Apartment where the Floor Noise Management Committee is working actively with a strong commitment to solve problems of residents as the pilot site, developing neighbor conflict solutions in the brand name of “Pat Pat Talk Talk.” Such solutions include the “Conflict Prevention Toolkit” that allows households to express complaints and gratitude and “Mailbox Communication Cards” to ask for the understanding of neighbors in advance. 


12 Mailbox Communication Cards to ask for the understanding of neighbors in advance and the Conflict Prevention Toolkit to express complaints and gratitude (2016) / Data provided by the SMG, photo by: 516 Studio

Please install them in our neighborhood!

After the official implementation at Cheonyeon Tteuranchae Apartment in 2016, the simplified version of Mailbox Communication Cards was applied to two rental apartment complexes in Seoul. Supported by the positive evaluation and high utilization of residents, the in-depth design governance project was applied to the Baengnyeonsan Hillstate 3cha Apartment in 2018. “Sharing Lockers” for active communication. “Mailbox Communication Cards” were embodied by intuitively improving the method of using the cards. The “Sharing Bulletin Board” was additionally made for sharing problems and feedback among neighbors. The cards have changed the perception of residents about living in an apartment, forming heartwarming neighborly relationships and respecting one another in everyday life.


Use at Baengnyeonsan Hillstate 3cha Apartment. Case that reconfigured the 12 Mailbox Communication Cards developed in 2016 into four kinds considering the effectiveness (2018) / Data provided by the SMG, photo by: 516 Studio

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