This is how South Korea is spending $35 billion designing a city that eliminates the need for cars

In this Songdo city of South Korea there are no garbage trucks, all waste goes to a complex system of pneumatic pipes where in the end they are classified with the aim of being reused as a source of energy. There are no gas stations or internal combustion cars here either. It might seem like a dream and even a movie synopsis, but it’s real.

Songdo is a city that was born as part of an initiative by South Korea and the International Business District (IBD) to seek an alternative to saturated Seoul. Here it is about giving a turn to urban development and incidentally being an example for the cities of the future. Songdo’s main objective is to become the first fully sustainable smart city, and where the main strategy to achieve this is to eliminate the use of cars as a means of transport.

Welcome to Songdo

Songdo was born as a project in 2000 and in 2002 its construction began with an initial budget of 35,000 million dollars. It is located 65 kilometers from Seoul along a reclaimed territory along the Yellow Sea. From the beginning, this project attracted the attention of the world due to its particular focus, since it set the goal of emitting at least 50% less greenhouse gases compared to Seoul.

The city is the size of downtown Boston (30.5 million square meters) and today it already emits a third less greenhouse gases when compared to Seoul. This was achieved in part because it was determined that 40% of the city’s area would be used for green areas (twice that of New York). The largest park in Songdo, located in the center of the city, is inspired by Central Park and measures almost 410,000 square meters.

Songdo’s planning was committed to a radical change in the construction and distribution of urban components, so here we will see how priority is given to public transport, such as buses, subways and bicycles. Internal combustion cars are prohibited from driving in the city and only a few electric cars are seen, since the main means of transport is bicycles.

To achieve this, the entire area is mixed-use, that is, both stores and offices, parks, hospitals and schools are close to residential areas, which makes it possible for residents to move between home, work and school only walking . In fact, one of the rules for residential areas is that the bus or metro stops are a maximum of 12 minutes on foot. In the interior of Songdo there are almost 25 kilometers of cycle lanes, which connect with a large 145-kilometer circuit that covers the city.

Today there are about 20,000 inhabited residential units and it is estimated that there are just over 100,000 inhabitants, but it is believed that that number will rise above 300,000 in 2020.

More than 100 buildings are LEED certified and it is being targeted that most residential buildings have this certification in the future. The current LEED buildings recycle at least 40% of the water they use and the energy comes from renewable sources, which is stored in their own batteries, so that the use of the electric power grid only represents 20%.

Everything in Songdo is automated, on the streets there are only energy-efficient LED lights, solar panels, wind turbines, water and waste are recycled, and everything works like a Swiss watch. The goal is for the city to be completed in 2020 and its final size is estimated to be more than 40 million square meters.

It is still too early to know if this will be the future

Despite all these benefits, Songdo has not attracted the attention of the inhabitants and the companies, since until now only 1,600 companies have offices in the city, of which only 58 are foreign. One of the main arguments is that everything continues to be centralized in Seoul, which is located almost two hours away.

Therefore, few people have decided to move to Songdo, especially given the low commercial activity and sources of employment, since there are no companies or people interested in investing in a local business, the city is not attractive for most of the population. people for more technology you have.

For example, during 2018 only two companies have opened offices in Songdo. One of them is focused on real estate development and the other is SparkLabs, a business accelerator with which they seek to promote the participation of new companies and startups. SparkLabs is launching a five-month pilot project where they will support various companies with an initial investment of $50,000.

On the week of November 27-29, 2018, the Korean government will hold the World Forum of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Statistics (OECD) in Songdo for the first time, the first attempt to organize an international event in its new city, which, in theory, will serve to present to the world its brand new “smart city, with the aim of attracting more investment.

Songdo South Korea

With all this, the Korean government is betting everything on this model of city, so they have given incentives to prestigious schools and local companies to move to Songdo in order to awaken the interest of citizens, but so far it has not been enough. We’ll see what happens in a couple of years when the city is finished.

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