PHOTOS: Korea Is Building The City Of The Future On An Artificial Island


Photo: Courtesy of Gale International


Photo: Courtesy of Gale International

The most exciting real estate project in the world is already alive and breathing on an artificial island in the Yellow Sea.  It’s called Songdo International Business District, a high-tech, post-modern, green utopia.

Click here to see pictures >
Planned business districts like London’s Docklands and Shanghai’s Pudong are usually placed to maximise convenience for workers to get to work and other existing office areas. But  South Korea is investing tens of billions of dollars to build a new city in the sea.

The reason is that Songdo aims not to be a hub for Korea, but a hub for all of Asia.  Songdo is envisioned as an aerotropolis. The island is positioned for easy access to Incheon International Airport via a seven-mile-long suspension bridge. South Korea is betting that for hyper-mobile global corporations, connectedness to other business hubs overseas will be a lot more important than the local area.

The city is only nominally Korean.  The lingua franca of Songdo is English. The school is projected to be 70% non-Korean. Even the city plan adopts elements of foreign cities.  From their website:

Songdo IBD boasts the wide boulevards of Paris, a 100-acre Central Park reminiscent of New York City, a system of pocket parks similar to those in Savannah, a modern canal system inspired by Venice and convention centre architecture redolent of the famed Sydney Opera House.

Songdo is without history and sense of place, but it’s also the first city-sized green building project. The city is 40% green space and the transportation infrastructure encourages bicycling and walking.  The entire project is built according to LEED standards.

It’s also a fully wired city. The developers teamed up with Cisco to provide TelePresence in every home, office, school and hospital in the city. 

Sounds like science fiction? Or a waste of money? Songdo is still a few years away from completion, but according to developers Gale International, 22,000 of the expected 65,000 permanent residents have already moved into the city and more are expected to come. China is also planning on building new cities modelled after Songdo. Perhaps this isn’t so outlandish after all. 

Songdo's 50 million square feet of office space includes the 68-story Northeast Asia Trade Tower (This is a photo of the partially-constructed city)

The development sits on 1,500 acres of reclaimed land. That's almost twice the size of New York's Central Park

The city is the largest private real estate venture in history

The Northeast Asia Trade Tower is the tallest building in South Korea

The developers plan to finish Songdo by 2015

Songdo's Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, Site of the 2010 and 2011 PGA Championships

The 7-mile-long Incheon Grand Bridge, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world, was built just to connect Songdo to Incheon International Airport

The entire city is built according to Korean and international green building standards.

Convensia Convention centre is already certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

The convention centre has the largest column-free indoor space in Asia

Songdo's Arts centre will include a 1400-seat opera house.

Songdo's Chadwick International School student body will be comprised of 70% foreign students, 30% Korean students

An artist's rendering of Songdo's Central Park. The designers incorporated elements from other cities such as New York's Central Park

The artificial lake was made with salt water

The city is still in the making, but 22,000 people have already moved in

Construction began in 2003

The development will include about 10 million square feet of retail space

The city will support a daytime population of 300,000 workers and students

Bicycling and walking will be encouraged by the design of the city.

40% of the development will be open green space

Electric cars will be given parking preference in Songdo

Some buildings will feature green roofs

Outdoor smoking will be restricted to designated areas

The entire project cost $35 billion dollars, equivalent to Costa Rica's 2010 GDP

An artist's rendering of what Songdo will look like when it is finished.

Some amazing architecture is popping up all over the world

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.