통찰력 있는 피이쉐어, 한국 No.1
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Treasure out of Trash

New Trends of Urban Renewal

Like any living organism, cities eventually grow old and tired. They cannot be left to die. Constant efforts should be made to breathe life into them. New buildings must be constructed and old infrastructure repaired or replaced. If not, old city areas will come to ruin. The importance of urban renewal cannot be stressed enough, but in fact most cities find it tricky to deal with the issue. What to do with the run-down parts of a city generates heated debates among interested parties. From local government to private property owners, conservationists to real estate developers, disused city districts are highly fought over.

A whole new start for the city was once a popular solution. A lot of run-down urban areas were entirely wiped out in favor of massive redevelopment that would meet the demands of the modern city, for housing, transport, office or commercial space. Old buildings were torn down and were soon replaced with bright, shining buildings. This approach to urban renewal may have been fast, effective, and profitable, but the true cost was ignored. The historical traces of the cityscape were forever erased, and residents with limited means were driven from their homes in the newly redeveloped neighborhoods. Because of this disregard for the human aspect, new perspectives to look at urban renewal are being brought into focus ― more creative, more community-friendly, and better at preserving a city's architectural heritage.

Escalators Transform Life in Hillside Neighborhood
A couple of decades ago, Medellin, Colombia's second largest city, was suffering from violence and poverty. Today the colorful city is part of an altogether brighter picture, a rising metropolitan economy in Latin America.that time, there were 15 nationally-ranked runners who were 13 and 14 years old. According to research done ten years later, only one runner from that group became a top runner at the age of 24.

This remarkable redevelopment is the result of inventive city planning. Comuna 13, a community high up on the city's hillside, was once a shelter for armed criminals. Steep roads climbing as high as 28 stories of stairs made it impossible for vehicles to access this poor neighborhood, leaving the community isolated, abandoned by law enforcement. The city came up with a clever idea to secure access to the area ― a 384-meter long series of escalators that scales the mountain. Freely open to the public, the journey takes a total of only six minutes. The residents cannot speak highly enough of the simple innovation. It has brought peace, pride, and prosperity to a community that had long suffered from governmental abandonment and unchecked crime of all sorts. In recent years Medellin's crime rate has fallen by more than 80 percent from its peak and the city has become a global model for successful transformation. The escalators themselves have become famous; they are now a symbol of rebirth and have encouraged international corporations to open new facilities in the area. Medellin's renewal has attracted planners from cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, and Washington, D.C. to see how it was accomplished.

Artistic Inspiration to Build an Ideal Community
Hundertwasser Haus in Vienna, Austria, is another creative example of urban renewal. Vienna was heavily bombed during World War II and reconstruction architecture was functional and featureless, consisting of cheap grey concrete blocks. Friedensreich Hundertwasser, a globally famous artist who also worked in the field of environmental protection, had long dreamed of transforming the dull concrete buildings into more welcoming, eco-friendly spaces, full of vitality and greenery. In December, 1977, the mayor of Vienna offered Hundertwasser full charge of rebuilding a run-down site in the middle of the city, allowing him to create a unique community composed of 52 apartments, common playgrounds, and a medical facility. The trees in the community are treated as regular tenants, just like the apartment residents.

They pay their share of the rent by providing fresh air and noise reduction. The apartment complex was designed to function as an integrated eco-friendly system, where people, plants, and animals live together in complete harmony. Above all, the best thing about the colorful apartment site is its overwhelming beauty and incomparable artistic uniqueness. Composed of colors and curves, the building itself is a work of art, a wonder to look at. The beautiful, inspiring complex has now become a major tourist site in the city. Most significantly, interest in the project has generated similar housing designs by architects from all over the world. In this case, an artist's vision has literally changed the entire view of the city.

Upcycling Outdated Infrastructure into Green Space
Green spaces in densely populated cities are often few and far between. In particularly populous cities like New York and Seoul, common space for citizens is never enough. Providing people with greener spaces that can be enjoyed outside during the usual working week is something all cities should struggle to accomplish. Upcycling or creative reuse of outdated infrastructure can be a great solution.

An innovative plan for New York's old subway line is a representative example of upcycling urban infrastructure. Originally built in 1929, the High Line was a 13-mile project that ran high across the west of Manhattan. Built at an enormous cost, it soon fell out of favor and began to be closed and brought down. In 1999, Manhattan residents and property owners started an effort to convert the disused rail line into a public park. The High Line Park is now a walking bridge, decorated with plants. It runs through the western part of Manhattan, offering a unique view of the city. It has revived the run-down area and breathed new life into the surrounding community.

In Seoul, Seoullo 7017, now open to the public, provides an example of upcycling outdated infrastructure. The Seoul Station Overpass, originally designed exclusively for cars, has been transformed into a garden bridge for walking citizens. The Seoul Station Overpass was once considered a symbol of the country's surprisingly fast economic development. Its transformation from a traffic overpass to a walking bridge marks how the priorities of one of the world's fastest transforming cities have been reordered. It stands for the slower pace of a nation that seeks to pay greater respect to its history and provide better quality of life for everyone.

Meeting the Challenges with Creative Solutions
Every city has pockets of underused and underutilized land or decaying urban areas. These pockets of underused land weaken the city's image and productivity. Cities from around the world are struggling to come up with creative urban renewal ideas to meet the challenges now that everyone is aware of the importance of urban planning. Creativity, community-friendliness, and preservation are the three key words in the current trends of urban renewal.

Upcycling and Adaptive Reuse
Upcycling is the process through which waste materials or useless products are transformed into new materials or products with a higher value, leading to a reduction in production and consumption. The term was initially used in 1994 by the German engineer Reiner Pilz, but in recent years has become widely used. In 2013, architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart released a book The Upcycle, which cited upcycling as a practical way to improve the world.

In architecture, a major form of upcycling is adaptive reuse. Adaptive reuse refers to the process of reusing an old site or building for a purpose different from its original one. Adaptive reuse deals with the issues of conservation and development and tries to reach a balance between the two, thus it becomes an effective way to reduce urban sprawl and environmental impact. By reusing an existing structure within a site, the energy and resources required to create these spaces are significantly lessened, with the added advantage of preserving architectural history. There are many prominent examples of adaptive reuse around the globe. For a representative example, the Bankside Power Station in London was converted for use as the Tate Modern, a modern branch of the Tate Art Gallery. The once dark brick structure is now a symbol of rebirth, helping rebuild the old neighborhood of Southwark. The Tate Modem is estimated to have created 2,400 jobs and generated at least $80 million annual income for London.