Songdo: betting on the green instant-city
Situated 65 km West from Seoul, Songdo, the greenest business hub in the world, should be completed by 2015. According to Gale International, the developer, green “instant-cities” are the answer to the frenetic urbanization taking place in developing countries.
Songdo International Development. Foto: Gale International.
The Songdo International Business District project, expected to cost about 35 billion dollars, is one of the most expensive development projects ever undertaken in the world. Built on 1500 acres of reclaimed land, this Free Economic Zone is meant to become a major business hub between Japan, China and South Korea. What could have become another "junkspace" has set itself an audacious goal: becoming the world's greenest business hub.
The energy efficiency and environmental considerations began in the construction phase, with a target to recycle 75 % of the waste generated during the entire construction process. The first distinctive feature of the future city is its 100-acres Central Park - symbol of the commitment to providing green space accessible to all. Inspired by Olmsted's Central Park in New York, it is designated to become a green recreational area within the busy city center, crossed by a navigable seawater canal.
Unlike the traditional CBDs, generally shaped by car-culture, Songdo will give priority to alternative modes of transportation through improved public transit and a 25 km network of bike lanes. As a disincentive to car-use, the city is designed in a way that city dwellers should not walk more than 12.5 minutes to reach shops, parks, or public transportation. Furthermore, 5 % of the parking spots will be reserved for low-emissions vehicles with an additional 5 % for carpool vehicles in offices and commercial buildings.
80% of the buildings are expected to be LEED-certified, and Songdo is actually the largest private LEED development site in the world. Its buildings should use 20 % less water and 14 % less electricity than a typical city of the same size. When it comes to energy savings, connectivity is the key solution: from smart meters enabling residents to measure their energy consumption at home, to control rooms regulating traffic via traffic/crossing lights, the combination of real-time data and reflexivity should indicate the smartest possible use of resources in the public space as well as in every private residential unit in Songdo.
Build on land reclaimed from the sea, Songdo is the archetype of the new, fast-constructed, and 'bright green' city. This 'instant city' concept is part of a new paradigm: green, connected and replicable new cities for booming economies not only in China but globally. That is why the Songdo case is a blueprint for new and sustainable cities all around the world, starting in China and India. For instance Tom Murcott, Gale International EVP and Chief Marketing Officer points that:
Our biggest challenge has really been programming: how do you develop a phased approach to bringing both people and activities into the city so that it becomes vibrant and thriving from day one?
The new city of Masdar, in the UAE, is a different concept:
the construction process is much longer than in Songdo, but the
city will be totally carbon-neutral.
Read the Masdar case study here
Last updated Tuesday, April 22, 2014