Re-permissioning the City
A platform that enables civic actors to actively co-create this civic infrastructure — transforming the way we use, govern and design the city in the process
A metropolitan city with a population of 2.4 million, Daegu is the second largest city located in the southeastern region of South Korea. Known as the “economic motor” of Korea during the 1960s - 80s, Daegu has a rich industrial history, centred on textiles and electronics manufacturing. It is also the birthplace of the global company ‘Samsung’.
Like many post-industrial, ‘shrinking cities’, Daegu is facing a set of chronic problems ranging from economic stagnation to population decline. The rate of out-migraton, especially among young people is rising rapidly. The public health responses to COVID19, while critical, have drained the city’s spaces of people, and have intensified local economic challenges.
A New Method
Past efforts for urban and economic revitalisation have mainly been centred on top-down models of infrastructure and industry development, and so far they have had limited impact (net migration continues to increase). We cannot solve this problem through a solution geared towards suppressing out-migration. We need to reconfigure both the problem and the method of intervention — pivoting away from the capital-centred, centralised growth model — and by radically embracing new mobilities: of people, places, (bio)materials, information.
Our idea is to bring people, and life, back to the city through a ‘smart’ permissions system called ‘Re-permissioning the City’. This digital platform will open up the city for all kinds of civic activities by granting citizens convenient access to one of the city’s most vital assets — space. Anyone can start running pop-up restaurants, communal libraries, host community auctions, evening lectures and more.
For the first time, citizens will be able to take an active role in co-creating the city’s landscape and restoring its vitality, while the city can benefit from gathering crucial data (around spatial use and human activities) that can be used to develop dynamic regulations and efficient, people-centric urban governance.
Imagine, a multitude of small self-organised events taking place throughout the city, bringing people, goods, experiences to different locations — dynamically interacting and growing with local businesses and communities.
Studies around the world have shown that there is a positive correlation between mobility and economic activity (and even economic growth). At the same time, restrictions of density and the rise of remote working/schooling after COVID19 has led to the downscaling of city centres and a shift in traditional centre-periphery dynamics.
In this digitally mediated, new geography of living, mobility is much more dispersed, and contingent on the intangible cultural, civic infrastructures, rather than the physical infrastructures of the city. Re-permissioning the City is a platform that enables civic actors to actively co-create this civic infrastructure — transforming the way we use, govern and design the city in the process.
What kind of information do we need to provide to activate new uses of urban space?
How can we use the smart permission system to unlock new flexible types of (rental) agreements and ensure diverse uses of space?
How can we measure and capture spillover value from civic activities that would allow DIY urbanism to grow and become more sustainable?
What are the radically different uses of space we can imagine?
Compliance and accountability
How can we build new compliance mechanisms that enable agency and autonomy rather than enforcing control?
Data informed governance
How could cities use open data collected through this system to imagine new public services?