Klaas Kresse

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Collaborative Development with Speculation Biotopes – How access to the speculation game buys goodwill of the displaced

Multilateral development agencies embrace urbanization as an opportunity to tackle economic, social, and environmental problems in the ambitious global policy agendas, published as the Habitat III - New Urban Agenda (NUA) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Here, among other tools they advertise the use of so-called collaborative, inclusive and self-financing land policies policymakers as one of five institutional enablers. However, it appears that the institutionalization of these land policies in East Asia has not been sufficiently understood from a distributional perspective. While land pooling policies are considered to be equitable land tools, the experience with land pooling policies in Seoul, Republic of Korea contradicts the equity notion brought forward by the NUA and the international best-practice literature.

We take the contradiction between theory and practice that we find in the Korean context as a point of departure for an institutional analysis of gentrification processes in joint redevelopment projects. The study starts from an investigation into combined processes of downwards raiding and ground rent dispossession that are supported by the institutional design of the land policy. Then the research examines how the institutional framework established with joint redevelopment projects in Seoul has created speculation biotopes that were designed to allow residents and outsiders to participate in the speculation game at different phases of development.

Separated by financial hurdles between adjacent biotopes the participation in the speculation game has been restricted according to the players economic capabilities.

Through the study it becomes apparent who the winners and who the losers in this process are and it will be explained how the institutional design of the land policy secured the support of the entire socio-economic spectrum despite its character as a tool of displacement.

Klaas Kresse is an Assistant Professor at Ewha Womans University, Department of Architecture. He holds an MSc degree in Architecture from TU Delft and is currently affiliated with the Institute of Management Research at Radboud University, Nijmegen where he conducts research on urban planning and property development in East Asia.

Previous employment includes the position of Visiting Professor at the University of Seoul, Department of Urban Planning and Design and as an Architect at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (O.M.A.) in Rotterdam.


Ewha Womans University