We believe designers’ social responsibilities are to create more beautiful and meaningful routines in everyday life and to try to find out new possibilities. We began from the question “How can design contribute to our society?” Here, we present our project of the crime prevention design, which was carried out with the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
From Old Alleys
Most regions in Seoul provide convenient living conditions with well-maintained roads and facilities and safe, comfortable buildings. However, if you look around, you can still notice a different aspect of Seoul, dilapidated villages filled with old houses and dismal, narrow alleys. Walking along the old alleys, traces of the past can be found from the streets, walls, gates, and even from a small garden around corners in those villages.
Mapogu Yeomni-dong, Seoul
Yeomni-dong in Mapo-gu is one of the typical old towns in Seoul. It is a high density residential zone, which is becoming an inner-city slum, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government designated this town as a district for the promotion of urban renewal and strengthening of public security. Statistics showed that crimes by financial hardship frequently occurred in this area, due to tangled alleys, old buildings, and poor living conditions. Moreover, conflicts and distrust increased between neighbors, because of the redevelopment issue, and the village was losing its vitality and sociability.
Approaches from Various Perspectives
Based on our experience design process, we tried to take a good look into the lifestyle, culture, and environmental problems and conflicts of the people in Yeomni-dong. We conducted researches with experts on many fields, such as urban planning, architecture, criminal psychology, and social community, and was able to get to the root of the problem by sharing perspectives and opinions together. The old residential environment of Yeomni-dong was the main reason that caused increasing crimes and reduced a sense of community among the residents. Complicated layout of the land and old building structures brought many crimes, including breaking into private houses and special larceny.
Seoul International Crime Prevention Design Seminar
Co-creation workshop with experts
People were easily exposed to sex assaults committed in dead zones in the alleys. Indeed, a number of residents in Yeomni-dong said they experienced direct and indirect crimes and had serious fear of becoming potential victims of crimes.
Survey of residents in Yeomni-dong – It reveals that nearly 10% of the residents were victimized by crimes.
On-site investigation with the residents about crime fear
A New Perspective and a New Solution
Ordinary measures to prevent crimes, such as strengthening regional patrol, extending coverage of CCTV systems, and establishing crime prevention environment have generally severe gap between planners and users. Hardware-centered solutions for preventing crimes require continuous budgets and face constraints regarding its operation and management. Thus, we aimed to change Yeomni-dong as an autonomous crime prevention model by residents’ participation for recover community, improvement of residential environment, and creation of mutually beneficial influence. To make the residents recognize these positive possibilities, the role of area design was important in changing people’s mind and behavior, as well as their surrounding conditions.
The residents participated in the community art program to make brighter and safer alleys.
Yeomni-dong people needed community friendship and positive expression of regional identity, rather than CCTVs.
Salt Way, a New Name for Yeomni-dong
The name of this town, Yeomni-dong (literally meaning “salt village”), was derived from a salt storage once located in this area a long time ago. Based on its original name, we gave this village a new name “Salt Way.” Also, we paid attention to significance of salt, as it is an essential component for life and gets rid of harmful elements.
The brand image of Salt Way, inspired by the alleys in Yeomni-dong and a salt crystal.
Maze-like alleys in Yeomni-dong disturb spatial cognition of pedestrians and degrade the visibility of a scene. Police officers used to ride bicycles or walk through the alleys, rather than driving a patrol car, and people who are not familiar with this area often got lost in the alleys. What if people are able to recognize their location in the complex alleys? What if visitors can trust other people they come across in the town? We imagined to create friendly alleys that can hold various stories of the residents. It was more than just providing well-established roads. The newly designed Salt Way should be roads that residents voluntarily take care of, roads that bring interests to neighbors, and roads that change the village from a gloomy area into an enjoyable place.
Salt Way numbers that help people find their current location in complex alleys.
Salt Way exercise manuals were designed to utilize the characteristics of Yeomni-dong, which has many hills and stairs.
Dark, Threatening Alleys Transformed into Pleasant Walkways
Telephone poles in the alleys act as a guide in Salt Way. Painted in yellow, a selected landscape color for Yeomni-dong, these telephone poles stand along the 1.7 km-long alleys, creating a walking trail. Also, each pole is numbered from 1 to 69, and have an information panel about brief exercises. Moreover, emergency bells, security keepers’ houses, playing spaces, and wall painting alleys are created in various locations of the Salt Way.
User-oriented design created by repeated design prototyping.
A yellow gate of a voluntary security keeper’s house.
A playing space for children. Alleys lead you home, let you meet neighbors, provide a resting area, and give you a chance to play with your friends.
Yeomni-dong’s fence with a design that brings active participation.
Amazing Changes brought upon by a Positive Experience
Though our project has been completed, the local community of Yeomni-dong is still working on a variety of campaigns to change the village. According to a survey we carried out after the project, 78.6% of the residents in Yeomni-dong responded that the Salt Way project helped prevent crimes in the local area, and 56.5% of them felt securer than before. In addition, 42.3% of the residents said they are having better relationships with their neighbors, suggesting that the Salt Way project influenced their life in a positive way. Salt Way will become our neighbor village, where more and more people want to live in and visit to take a walk.
Seoul Metropolitan Government
Executive Director - 이창호
Director - 이영민
Designer - 배지훈, 이수정, 김시내, 최태범
Co-work with Team Interface