The role of cultural development in urban strategy: the Hub City of Asian Culture in Gwangju, Korea
thesisposted on 06.04.2016, 14:36 by Geuntae Park
This thesis investigates the role of cultural development in urban strategy. In particular, it reflects on the application of Western-developed theories and practices of cultural planning to culture-led urban developments in Asian cities. Through the case study of the Hub City of Asian Culture project in Gwangju, Korea by employing documentary analysis and supplementary semi-structured intervews, the thesis investigates cultural and urban policies, the background and process of the project delivery, the ways the project has affected change in the city, and future challenges for Gwangju. The thesis identifies four key characteristics of culture-led urban development projects: these are, the emergence of most large scale culture-led urban developments out of a longer history of culturally focused planning and policy, the centrality of city image change as a key driver, as well as the pursuit of economic impact, and the engagement of local communities as, at least, an important discourse in the development and implementation of such projects. The thesis uses its identification of these characteristics as a frame to examine the case of the Hub City of Asian Culture project. It was initially anticipated that this frame for understanding culture-led urban development projects would reveal the similarities of the Asian case with those Western cases which the frame was developed. In fact the investigation has revealed that the processes of project delivery in Gwangju have shown quite different aspects from the Western examples due to the city’s unique local context. Drawing particular attention to the ways in which the Hub City of Asian Culture has been implemented, and how it has tried to solve the challenges and opportunities that emerged from the local context, the research contributes to a wider discussion of culture-led urban strategy, and furthermore hopes to contribute to the developing discussion of culture-led development in Asia.