comparing neighborhoods

I was going to write more to make this post flow better but I’ve already written too much for now. I will leave to Mokpo tomorrow :) I didn’t write much about comparing neighborhoods in this post but that is basically my main goal for this whole project so I’ll leave the title be and continue the research.

It's hard to compare cities because each neighborhood has differing characteristics. That's why I've decided to focus on analysis between neighborhoods in my projects. I would be careful to use tools like Google Maps for this kind of research because of the inherent problems with algorithmic geographies. Google Street View on the other hand offers a less biased view of the world (at the present date). But even better than that is actually walking around on the street.

From what I've seen so far, the historical tourism area of Jeonju is a lot different from Gyeongju's main historical tourism area. There seems to be a lot more history in Gyeongju despite having 3x fewer present-day population.

It's interesting how buildings near the historical areas of cities try to mimick the features of the historical buildings. Unfortunately, too often their homage lacks original thinking and creativity so this style of homage falls short and ends up looking contrived and ridiculous.

Gyeongju doesn't really have that problem. The historical areas are spatially separated from other buildings by the heavy archaeological excavations that surround the area. The excavations increase the legitimacy of the history and bring it to life. It's exciting because new discoveries are but made every year. But Jeonju feels a lot more modern--maybe 1000 years more modern. And for a good reason because it is 1000 years more modern.

But this really puts US history into perspective for me. In Jeonju, things don't seem very old but many things are a few hundred years older than the US. The problem with renovation is that if you do it too well then it can make things seem new and fake.

One of the reasons why I don't like touristy areas is that the tourism industry is marketing and trying to recreate an environment that doesn't really exist anymore. The local culture has already moved on but now the whole city has to pretend and be a part of this fake reality. It's a temporary delusion. A break from "normal" culture. A fantasy world or Disneyland.

Disney was really cool when it was about creating an experimental world which could eventually become a livable reality (like EPCOT) but Disney has shifted to much more of an “event” type of company. It's not something that makes people think as much as it used to. Instead it has become a tool to temporarily escape reality.

I miss Gyeongju but Jeonju is starting to grow on me. In Gyeongju, two thousand year old history is in your face all the time. The history here is a bit more recent and you have to look a little bit harder to see it. While the historical significance of the city doesn't match Gyeongju, there is still more history here than any modern city of North America.

The tourism industry in Gyeongju seems to be much more regulated by the Korean government. The significant sites are public property, but in Jeonju it seems that the line between authentic and copy is much more blurred. Private businesses surround public land with identical looking buildings.

Critics and writers like Oscar Wilde said you can’t have this overlay of ethics on aesthetics, because it confuses art with morality, condemning art as questionable if it was morally shocking. So ethics in art were not considered. In architecture programs, we didn’t even teach ethics for most of the 20th century, so it’s not surprising that architects wouldn’t know much about it, beyond a discussion you might have in a professional practice class.

We need to evolve another way of thinking about the built environment based on cultural values.

The paradox is that dirty money has fueled the construction of whole parts of cities. A client with an unlimited budget is a great opportunity for architects, who are always rubbing up next to money and power, and that’s one reason it isn’t much discussed. There are all kinds of negative impacts: you end up building too much, with materials that are resource-intensive, raising land values that lead to gentrification. Ethics in the profession should make you pause and think: What are the implications of doing this or that? It’s a lens for looking at the built world, your place in it, and what your responsibilities are as an architect. Sometimes, you just have to say no.

Thomas Fisher

Architecture is highly persuasive and as a species we haven’t yet realized it or come to terms with the psychological impacts of our environments. Beyond professional ethics I think we really need an analysis of and an ethical consideration of the psychological impacts of architecture.

But the idea is rarely talked about in architecture and urban planning literature. The primary subjects of those fields are aesthetics and functionality. If the mentally ill can benefit from a “socio-archetecture” than might we also benefit from it? We have a greater capacity for dealing with environmental stress and confusion, but wouldn’t it be nice to feel as refreshed inside as we do while sitting on a bench outside in a thriving, green forest?

You can kill a man with a building just as easily as with an axe.

Adolf Behne

We need a “healthy” architecture much more than we need an aesthetic architecture.

Research in Systems Complexity reveals that complex systems often have multiple emergent behaviors. The probability of miscommunication or making mistakes differs from industry to industry because of subjectivity, difficulty, and environmental differences. These mistakes could lead to differences in the evolution of trust (where different models of trust win over others) in that industry which leads to differences in personality and differences in our perception of those differences.

What the game is, defines what the players do.
Our problem today isn't just that people are losing trust,
it's that our environment acts against the evolution of trust.

That may seem cynical or naive -- that we're "merely" products of our environment -- but as game theory reminds us, we are each others' environment. In the short run, the game defines the players. But in the long run, it's us players who define the game.

Some buildings insulate sound more than others simply from the angle and shape of buildings relative to the street. (calculated db levels: left daytime, right nighttime)

The amygdala of modern man has learned that it is necessary for survival to trigger the flight reaction when he hears the noise of an approaching lorry while crossing the road. However, if he watches the traffic from a balcony the same noise will not trigger a flight reaction because the amygdala is overruled by the cortex. In contrast to this, an unexpected and sudden very loud noise will quite probably cause a shock reaction and a prickling sensation right down to the toes. This is caused by adrenaline release in the flight reaction. In this case reasoning is too slow to prevent the flight reaction. If on the other hand, modern man is sleeping near a busy road; his amygdala has no other option than to react to the lorry noise with the defeat reaction. Since nearly 20% of the European population is exposed to high levels of traffic noise during the night, chronically repeated reactions with cortisol increase will be a widespread problem. (Hartmut Ising, Deepak Prasher)

Noise is a big stressor and I think a lot of people even if they don’t realize or want to admit it. So I’m incorporating some of this generated data and community gathered data (if worthwhile) into my application at


Isotype by Otto Neurath to illustrate how a house is constructed from raw materials (photographed at the Exhibition Red Vienna)

“How does the shift from montage to navigation alter the way images—and art—operate as models of political action and modes of political intervention?” how are our concepts of political action pressured to surpass or perform model worlds? This one showed up in my Google Alert subscription for “actionable objects” and I think it’s written pretty well and presents a much more accessible summary of Farocki’s life work. Highly recommended.

This is an interesting article about how geographic errors can help people evade tax…