City Desgin as Investment in the Future

The 2021 SEOUL DESIGN INTERNATIONAL FORUM has obtained written consent from the speaker to publish the summarized and edited content

SPEAKER: Oh Se-hoon (Mayor of Seoul) 

Welcome, I’m Oh Se-hoon, the mayor of Seoul. It is my great pleasure to be here at the Seoul Design International Forum. I would also like to express my gratitude to the speakers. 

Today, I would like to focus on ‘urban design.’ Design is capable of creating values. And cities must be able to offer values to their residents. When cities have values, they become more competitive and provide a happy, fulfilling life. Therefore, design is a key tool that drives cities’ competitiveness. A city is our legacy for generations to come as they pioneer into the future. Given this, urban design is an investment for the future.  

As part of an effort to enhance our competitive edge, the city of Seoul has set up a dedicated department for the first time in the country and incorporated design into the administrative activities. Seoul is the first municipal government to establish an urban landscape plan (2019). We also have been operating a public design deliberation committee before the enactment of the Public Design Promotion Act. In addition, the city of Seoul was appointed as a World Design Capital and a UNESCO City of Design for setting an example by integrating design into public policies. 

Today, the world is going through a series of challenges in many areas due to the unexpected pandemic. Our way of life has been upended and people are suffering as a consequence. While the future has a lot of uncertainties, many cities around the world are desperately looking for ways forward after the COVID-19. As part of the responses to the pandemic, Seoul is seeking an urban design strategy that ensures people’s health and safety. We are the first local government in Korea to create the ‘Infection Control Standard Design’ to easily share infection-related information, precautions, and guidelines with the public in everyday life. This is the first step for Seoul to become a city with exceptional resilience and disaster response. 

Through the Seoul Vision 2030, we established future strategies to promote the city into a prestigious cultural hub. Seoul will reclaim its historical identity by restoring its history and culture. The initiative will help us design a cultural city that brings tradition and modernity together. Waterfront areas and shared spaces within Seoul will transform into places for relaxation and healing. The ultimate goal is to make Seoul an esteemed, stylish design city. 

Today’s event is held at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, or DDP. As part of our plan, DDP will become a design larchiveum supporting technological development, talent cultivation, and marketing activities for young start-ups and small business owners. This will turn DDP into a more robust platform for the design industry. It’s crucial to leverage design as a means rather than as a purpose. Urban design requires future-oriented goals and continuous systematic management, given that it’s an investment for people in the present and future. 

This year’s theme is ‘Re Connect: Design as a Value Creator.’ I hope that the forum allows us to explore urban design and design-based solutions to various social problems. Discussions we have today will facilitate the creation of new values for people. I look forward to seeing new roles that ‘design as a creator of various values’ will play to make our life more meaningful. 

Thank you. 

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