The book Neighborhood in Motion: One Neighborhood, One Month, No Cars by Konrad Otto-Zimmermann and Yeonhee Park describes a unique urban experiment in the South Korean city Suwon, in which all cars were taken off the road for one month.
Neighborhood in Motion shows how a one-month car-free festival in a neighborhood affects the urban spaces and the mindsets and lifestyles of the residents. In September 2013 a conference and a festival on EcoMobility were organized in Haenggung-dong, a neighborhood of Suwon, in which 1,500 registered cars were blocked from the neighborhood for 30 days. The district’s 4,300 residents were forced to switch over to alternative modes of transport, or ‘EcoMobility’ — walking, cycling, ‘wheeling’, public transport and car-sharing. The idea behind this urban experiment was to prepare the citizens of Suwon for urban life in an era of dwindling fossil resources and therefore make them aware of low-carbon energy supply and how this could look like in real life.
The book is divided into twelve chapters and describes in great detail all the steps involved with the event. From the idea itself to finding a city that is willing to realize the laborious project to the selection of a suitable district — it goes on to discuss the planning process, the participation of the residents, the improvement of the quarter’s appearance as well as the implementation of the EcoMobility aspect and the cultural activities over the course of one month. The book concludes with the question what remains when the cars move back into the neighbourhood at the end of festival.
The book intriguingly shows how an urban district changes within the car-free month: from busy, car-oriented streets to a more attractive neighborhood that offers a higher quality of life due to less smog and more possibilities to use public spaces. Cafés were able to extend their seating onto the sidewalk, children were able to play in the streets safely and people started to play nightly games of badminton in the streets.
What makes the book appealing is that it puts forward the idea of taking advantage of the temporary nature of a festival to create an urban laboratory in which new ideas can be tested &mash; in this case a car-free neighborhood. It can be interesting eye-opener for urban governments and city-makers around the world that are struggling to find support for certain ideas. The approach in Suwon has been successful enough to lead to a second EcoMobility festival will take place in October 2015 in Sandton, a district of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Neighborhood in Motion: One Neighborhood, One Month, No Cars
Editor: Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, Yeonhee Park (eds.)
Published by Jovis, Berlin
Publication date: January, 2015
112 pages with 250 images
Softcover with flaps
Dimensions: 24 x 21 cm