After many years of political turmoil, South Korea has now gained enough economic stability to begin working on its goals of becoming the world’s next major international business hub. This stability has allowed large Korean companies to travel to foreign countries, constructing some of the tallest buildings in the world. Now, however, these companies are taking their designs to their own soil by strategically focusing on areas that will allow for the greatest opportunities for future development. One such area is the city of Songdo. More on this city’s development after the break.
Thirty-five billion dollars went toward the development of Songdo, a city on the coast of the Incheon Free Enterprise Zone, only a short distance away from the Incheon International Airport. This airport is of critical importance to South Korea’s expansion efforts, for it gives the growing city of Songdo the means to operate internationally. By using the international airport as a starting point for their building efforts, the country hopes to be able to compete with their also-growing neighbor, China.
Songdo was carefully chosen for its location and its potential for growth. Already, the country’s tallest building, the Northeast Asia Trade Tower, is located in Songdo. And even though KPF’s plans for Songdo are not set for completion until 2015, with the city’s close proximity to the airport and goal of attracting foreign businesses, it appears as though their plans are off to a promising start.
In addition to the Korean companies that are contributing to the large-scale changes occurring in the country, like Samsung, POSCO and Hyundai, several foreign countries are designing projects for South Korea’s expansion as well. The California-based Cisco Systems joined forces with the New Songdo International City Development team (NCIS) to create an extremely advanced community connected in every way imaginable by technology, otherwise known as a “Smart City.” Songdo will eventually have wireless networks connecting all major information systems in the community, whether they be residential, commercial, medical or governmental. Although such a system is controversial and raises numerous concerns over privacy, South Korea hopes that it will lure overseas businesses to Songdo. Because countries like China and Vietnam, which thrive on mass production, are just a short plane ride away, South Korea is trying to stay away from that sector in order to avoid the nearby competition. Instead, it hopes that the “Smart City” concept will attract the sort of companies that would make their country into a major international business hub.
The focus of development in Songdo is largely on creating a technologically-advanced society where business can prosper. The city, however, was also designed with a large emphasis on sustainability, making it an even more attractive option for foreign businesses. It contains a large public park (named after Central Park) in the center of the city, a central non-potable water canal, charging stations for electrical cars and a city-scale co-generation plant.
Thus the city of Songdo is of crucial importance to future development in South Korea. With sustainable construction already underway, linking of the city’s information systems in the works and the Incheon International Airport just 20 minutes away, Songdo has great potential as an international city. If all goes as planned, Songdo will soon be on its way to becoming a sustainable city where both business and technology can flourish. Photographs: Flickr: WSTAY, d’n'c, my_memory2, conbon33, marco2001 References: Architect’s Library, BBC News