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.

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.

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