[intro]Some have dubbed it as “The World’s Smartest City”, while others call it “The City of the Future” and “Korea’s High-Tech Utopia”. It has also been called “A City in the Box” because of its massive reliance on technology. Built on a reclaimed sea-land, Songdo International Business District has been dubbed as the world’s smartest and greenest city, with tall and beautifully designed buildings planned around a 100-acre central park and about 40% of the total space accounting for green spaces around the city. The city’s developers call it the smart city or future city.[/intro]
In 2000, the area around which the city is built on was just a marshy stretch of mudflats in the Yellow Sea and a home to a number of fishermen. No one would ever have imagined that years later, the land that many people saw as unproductive would emerge to become one of the most beautiful technological real estate developments in the world. What’s even more impressive about this city is that it was developed from scratch, unlike many cities. The Songdo project was started approximately 20 years ago as the construction of Incheon International Airport began. The airport is located 35 miles west of Seoul, the capital of Korea.
The Korean government had several things in mind. First, any smart city is a big attraction to many foreigners and business investors and true to this, the city has managed to lure foreign business, which is a huge economic leap. Secondly, the government hoped to build a city that would demonstrate Korea’s unique technological prowess. The developers envisioned that Songdo would grow into a global Asian city like Singapore and Hong Kong. Even though most cities around the world try to make themselves “smarter”, Songdo’s beauty and functionality is exceptional.
So, What Makes Songdo the Smartest City in the World?
A city that has been built from scratch in a country that uses advanced technology in construction is definitely unique. You can imagine why the city is not only the smartest, but also is one of the high-tech capitals in the world. Here is a brief description of the city that will leave you astounded.
Songdo city owes its super-efficient infrastructure to Korea’s advanced technology, which is amongst the best in the world. To start with the transport system in the city is incredibly coordinated, with well-planned road networks, many transit options (buses, waterways, pedestrian thoroughfares, cycling, trains, subways) with all stations displaying the arrival and departure time on the laser panels, and numerous charging stations for electric trains. It’s also one of the most walkable cities in the world as everything is designed to be reachable in a short time by foot. Surprisingly, it also has the longest subway system in the world. Apart from its cutting-edge infrastructure, Songdo also boasts of its ultra-fast Wi-Fi network. With a city build on a technology base, you can expect a lot more, especially now that Korea has become renowned for its hi-tech industry.
This master-planned metropolis has been recognized as a model of sustainability, innovation, and city-scale development. Designed by a renowned international architectural company, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Songdo city is largely recognized for its innovative building designs which consist of massive retail shops, hotels, office space, residential apartments, as well as cultural and civic facilities. In fact, it’s the only city in the world where all buildings meet the LEED requirements. The 68-storey Northeast Asia Trade Tower stands as Korea’s tallest building and the most advanced corporate center. The Songdo Convensia, an architecturally stunning building operates as Incheon’s primary conventional center and is Korea’s largest column-free interior space. The Incheon’s Arts Center is a cultural complex housing an opera house, concert hall, music conservatory, a library, design school, and the museum of Asian Contemporary Art.
The city consists of public and private schools offering a state-of–art learning environments, public and private healthcare facilities such as the Songdo International City Hospital that boasts of the latest medical diagnosis and various treatment technologies.
The city’s 600-acres of open space including the famous Central Park offer a beautiful relaxation place for those working in the city. With its numerous green spaces around the buildings, the city provides a conducive environment with fresh and clean air.
One feature of the city’s infrastructure that stands out is the city’s waste management system. Forget the common waste disposal methods. The city’s waste disposal is high-tech as all the kitchens are installed with pneumatic trash shoot that funnels waste materials to a central water processing center. The food waste is used for agricultural purposes while the rest of the garbage is recycled. The city’s also uses a powerful central utility that recycles approximately 40% of waste water from all around the city. The city’s infrastructure also incorporates Korea’s powerful technology with high-tech sensors that regulate and monitor temperature, energy consumption, traffic, and every other type of infrastructure running in the city.
As for leisure and shopping, Jack Nicklaus Golf Club, IFEZ Songdo Arts Center, Central Park, Lotte Shopping Town, Sheraton Incheon Hotel, and others are some of the best places to hangout for cultural activities, shopping, and leisure. Other iconic sites include the Gateway Center, the Songdo Convenesia Center, and International Business Square, all in the modern architectural design.
Additionally, Songdo has been identified as one of the most beautiful and affordable places to live in. Forget the boring life in other cities. Songdo has it all. For city lovers, there are numerous charming garden residences with over 22, 500 housing units, state-of-the-art high-rise apartments, sleek low-rise loft spaces in the Songdo Canal Walk, and beautiful penthouses with crystal clear views of the Yellow Sea and the Incheon Bridge – all connected to the city’s unending supply of water, energy, and the efficient waste collection facilities.
Unlike what many people think, Songdo is more than just a high-tech district with sleek building designs and technologically controlled facilities. There is much more to business investments and the economical development. The city was specifically designed to appeal to the foreign investors especially with its dense network frame, green spaces for extra luxury, and its efficient infrastructure.
With billions of dollars invested in its construction, Songdo is expected to become Northeast Asia’s hub for business, culture, and leisure.