Assessing urban grain fineness and density potential – a case study for Korean urban regeneration

Gohaud, Emillen and Schuetze, Thorsten; (2022) Assessing urban grain fineness and density potential – a case study for Korean urban regeneration. In: Annual Conference Proceedings of the XXVIII International Seminar on Urban Form. University of Strathclyde Publishing, Glasgow, pp. 679-686. ISBN 9781914241161

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For the past decade, South Korea has been attempting to break away from large-scale redevelopment practice and engaged in new urban regeneration projects targeting its declining urban areas. Those ageing districts are characterized by a general fineness of the urban grain, with small alleys and plots associated with relatively high built density. The factors used to evaluate decline are essentially socio-economic indicators coupled with a rough evaluation of the building stock decay through its age. Limitations due to the nature of the urban form – and especially its excessive fineness- are often cited as the main hindrance to regeneration, as car accessibility is poor and development scale limited. Yet, no systematic indicators or definitions of this fineness have been developed. Moreover, the limitations of these urban fabrics are relative to the expectation set by the urban code, notably in terms of density and built typology. Regeneration of fine-grained urban districts requires a reformulation of the generic urban code adapted to those specific tissues. This research attempts to clarify the notion of fineness of urban fabric in the Korean context. It identifies indicators of fineness levels using tools developed in urban morphology, notably the Spacematrix and the notions of network density. It applies those indicators to a Korean case study area and compares them to a database of urban fabric worldwide in an attempt to 'benchmark' the Korean old city and establish a relation between urban tissue fineness and acceptable or potential density. The research sits in the general framework of establishing connections between urban morphology study and urban practice such as urban regeneration projects.