As part of the project process we interviewed three knowledgable folk related to urban development, community farming and environmentally minded entrepreneurship
On this page they share insights and experience gathered in their fields, these conversations helped to inform the ideas presented in this exhibition. We hope you can also learn from and find inspiration in their words.
My role is to oversee all the steps required for urban planning. There are several that need to be completed before a region is developed. First of all, the business of acquiring land that is for sale, secondly planning what kind of buildings will be constructed, and finally collecting tenants and selling the buildings in stages. I'm the manager who is responsible for ensuring all of these steps proceed without any problems.
I understand that art installation costs are set aside depending on the size of the construction. It is not applicable to all projects, but usually installation of works must be applied as a percentage of construction costs over a certain amount. In some cases 1% is applied based on 10,000 square meters or more, less is applied if the area is under 10,000 square meters. This is done differently from region to region, it is sometimes rated lower at 0.7% in Seoul and 0.5% in other regions. These things can be taken into account up to the 1% line. The range of applications varies depending on the type of architecture. In the case of officetels, many people use them, so public artworks are usually required. Architects plan them into the building and mostly the designs are decided by a contractor, the city hall will approve them according to the results of the artistry evaluation.
It’s beneficial to attract well regarded works such as paintings, but I heard that there aren't many cases where city hall or provincial governors give permission for this type of piece, only about a third of the total. There is a preference for sculptures in the process, this factor cannot be ignored.
The characteristics and amenities of the region are considered to be the most important sales factor. The type of activities that the land can be used for are also considered. Considering the surrounding environment, whether it will be an entertainment facility, a commercial facility space, or a residential area is determined by the government. The area of land that can be used and the floorspace and height that can be built are already designated according to their decision. Within these limited options, you will decide what kind of business you should pursue or what kind of space you should organize (e.g. officetels, apartments, department stores, commercial districts, etc.)
Sometimes, the surrounding area is better than the land we are developing, so we decide which spaces to aim to work on in the future. Usually in this case, designers decide on the form of the project by looking at buildings that can be built under supervision of the local government, areas that are already in use have procedures to repurpose the land. Usually, farmland costs less than commercial land, and when farmland is converted into commercial land, the difference is paid accordingly.
Of course, there is farmland designated around the city. I understand that there are some limitations because there are more likely to be other tenants nearby, this results in such as smaller orchards and fields rather than large scale growing of crops. In this case, I understand that it is possible to create farmland as desired by changing the use rights with permission from the government.
In the case of urban regeneration, it is important to connect with the region because the local revitalisation project is carried out on a neighborhood basis. However, the elderly, who are usually homeowners, don't necessarily agree with this kind of business. This means that sometimes the state (city and provincial governors) purchase the land to proceed with the development.
In the case of Ikseon-dong, which emphasizes the characteristics of a hanok village, it is not possible to modify the hanoks but flexibility is sometimes exercised to a certain extent to revitalise the region. In the end, unlike large-scale purpose-built projects urban regeneration projects tend to focus on local traditions and stories to elevate their strengths. I think that if these factors can be used to revitalise the under utilised or derelict space, not only the value of land, but also the local economy and the local people can grow together.
공간이 만든공간 - (Architect Yoo Hyun-joon)
This site was once a small farmland, these days I operate it by inheriting some characteristics of that farm. At first, the owner didn't want to sell the farmland. Still, I really wanted to create this community farm so I met him often and expressed interest in the farm. One day he asked me if I would like to start with a charter. So I ran it on a charter basis and, after a while of successful use, bought it. There has been a village close by for a long time, the atmosphere has improved a lot recently as there are many new shops and houses. I worked hard on the community farm for a long time and tried to be good to the neighbors around me, so people understand when we use fertilizers that smell a little. There are not many conflicts with the residents.
When I was planning the farm, I had a lot of thoughts about how to run it. If you were going to run it only as a farm, you probably wouldn't have chosen this type of polytunnel because you need to water the crops even if it rains. However, the reason I chose the polytunnel was because I wanted more people to visit it. We invite people to eat together and grow memories and crops together. I also wanted to run it as an organic farm. Crops that grow stronger are good for the body. That's also why I tend to avoid farm automation. After all, people will be more invested in the farm and it will be loved by those who visit often. This is the reason I found a place in the city and set up a farm here, people can come here often. It’s common to go out of town to plant weekend farms. But if you're too far, it's hard to go often. I thought it was necessary to visit often to develop experiences and culture in daily life.
Sometimes the elders come and sprinkle pesticides secretly to continue the farming methods they have been doing previously. But we do not use pesticides as a rule. That's actually why we can't grow peanuts. Earthworms eat all of them. If you want to prevent this you have to apply pesticide and the worms will die. But earthworms grow in high-quality soils and make them even more nutritious. You can't get rid of earthworms just because you want to grow peanuts. It is better to tell the elderly people who break the principle and secretly spray pesticides not to do it, but I cannot stop the things that I do not see. Even though they have a way they insist on, it would be strange to ignore our principle for that.
Urban people have reservations about encroaching on each other's things. There are many times when weeds accumulate in the plots of people who don't come out for a few weeks. If you are familiar with the concept of Pum-At, you will be able to help and harvest each other's plots, but that culture could be awkward for urban folk because it is not learned in school but naturally through interaction with plants and people. The agricultural culture of caring for each other has not been able to continue because of this. That's why it can be awkward to interfere in someone's plot. I don't want to avoid it though, so there must be a principle like that. However, urban people think that not only the act of farming, but also culture, should be more formal. In life various wisdoms and perspectives will coexist with each other. Unfortunately, I think we should accept this as well.
Seoul offers a variety of programs. I know that each Gu office has a business to manage local farms, but it is difficult to use such a space because it is allocated by lottery. This happens once a year, but people who run a farm in a group apply at once to increase their probability, and after obtaining land there are cases where they grow their farm together. Our community farm is personally purchased and operated because we don't want to put limits on operating it under local restrictions. I'm not a person with a lot of money, but a lot of young people these days think about farming.
On a visit to Germany, I saw the government there run a program to give land to the elderly so they can plant farms and form a community around them. Since then, I have been to see more than 100 community farm in the city, and after that I started running a small farm myself. Various people gather here. If you become a member with a membership fee of 200,000 won and a small amount of 360,000 won a year, you can cultivate your own farm in a certain part of the land. There are 11 members now. It is a space where people can volunteer to come and take care of the farm, or invite friends to meet and relax.
When it comes to running such a farm, I think that profit should not be prioritized. I think we should value our relationships with people and the meaningful things that happen within them. I think it makes no sense to sell something grown by urban farmers like us, not professional farmers, and I grow up enough to eat and share what's left of there. If there is one principle here, it’s that we don't take home other people's crops. However, it is agreed that when eating in the farm, we share with each other as long as it doesn't hurt. The principle of this group is to share when necessary and not to think too tightly.
As we understand it, I think the expression and operation method will be different depending on the focus of the beekeeping system and definition of effectiveness. It really depends on whether you focus on the environmental benefits or profit.
First, I'll explain if you were to focus on the environment. In this case I think the key concept is bees as a pollination medium. The most important step is to calculate the activity radius of the bees (which varies between 1 to 2 kilometers) and select the right locations based on that. According to our calculations, the area of Seoul is about 605 square kilometers. Assuming that the radius of activity is not overlapped, if the radius of activity of bees is calculated to be 1km, about 605 urban beekeepers need to be installed to operate the optimal beekeeping and pollination system. Of course, if you calculate it at 2km, the number required will be even less. Also, if the purpose is environmental, providing habitats for wild bees as well as raising bees should be added.
Next is to focus on profit. In this case, you will have to weigh the amount of honey that can be produced in each beekeeping space as well as the number of people we need to hire to maintain it. Then you need to find a way to put more hives into the space to increase production.
The expected effect depends on each purpose. If we focus on the first environment, the expected effect will be how many bees we can support to help pollinate the city. If we focus on profit, it's important how much honey is produced and how many people we hire.
With ecologically minded businesses, I think there are three opportunities to consider. These examples are in our case as beekeepers, but relate to other types of business too.
1. Experiences and education services that increase understanding of the environment and ecosystem surrounding bees.
2. When considering bees themselves as environmental sensors, a service that collects and analyzes data on urban bee health, plantlife and the atmospheric environment.
3. A service that analyzes the composition of honey created by urban bees, for example measuring the pollen in honey, and draws an ecological map based on this data (although I’m not sure how this would make profit).
I think this kind of business is possible.