What happens when you take all the cars away from an entire neighborhood for one month? Find out in Neighborhood in Motion: One Neighborhood, One Month, No Cars.
In September 2013, the city of Suwon in South Korea underwent a unique experience for the EcoMobility World Festival: for one month, the 4,300 inhabitants of the Haenggung-dong district got rid of their cars. Initiated by Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, the aim of the event was to assist the city of Suwon, whose mayor is a staunch defender of the environment, in its transition to low-carbon energy sources. The idea was to offer people a day to day experience of an "ecomobile" urban lifestyle - in a way it offered them a glimpse of the future.
Deprived of their cars, local people had to adapt to new modes of transport. The municipality made public shuttle services available along with 400 bicycles and electric scooters... There were also some strange vehicles of all shapes and colors that enabled visitors to get around the neighborhood. The mail was delivered using electric cars and police officers patrolled on Segways.
In the space of 30 days without cars, Haenggung-dong with its crowded, polluted and noisy streets gave way to a more beautiful, more comfortable and safer place to live.
Published in January 2015, Neighborhood in Motion describes each stage in the festival -from the birth of the idea itself to rolling it out in Haenggung-dong. Richly illustrated, and punctuated by personal accounts, the book takes us into the life of a neighborhood just like any other – except that it became an urban laboratory. We discover the men and women who helped plan the project, the incredible organization it required, the reactions, sometimes mixed, of residents and store owners, and in particular the changes that took place in Haenggung-dong itself.
And Haenggung-dong will change significantly! "Happiness spread through the neighborhood," wrote Konrad Otto-Zimmermann. In the space of 30 days without cars, Haenggung-dong with its crowded, polluted and noisy streets gave way to a more beautiful, more comfortable and safer place to live. Everyone thought the project promoted cultural activities and strengthened social bonds. With the disappearance of some 1500 cars from Haenggung-dong, residents began reclaiming public spaces. Cafes and restaurants put chairs and tables on the sidewalks, the children began playing in the streets, the elderly were able to move around in peace, and some people even organized badminton games at night.
On the morning of October 1, the cars returned to Haenggung-dong. The book ended with this question: "What is left?” What is left of the experience now the 4 wheel drive cars have reconquered the streets and alleyways in Haenggung-dong? At the end of this delightful interlude, residents met to decide on the measures they could take for the future of their neighborhood. Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, is preparing to hold a second festival in October 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Neighborhood in Motion: One Neighborhood, One Month, No Cars (in English and German)
Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, Yeonhee Park
Main picture: © EcoMobility World Festival 2012