Feature Story

Cities of the Future: Songdo, South Korea – A New Approach

by Wendy Tanaka

Songdo International Business District in South Korea, is a prime example of a new city. The $35-billion-dollar project is being built from the ground up by some of the world's best planners, architects, builders and technology companies. Episode 1 of the series.


Today, the world holds 7 billion people. Within the next 50 years, that number may climb to 9 billion. The need to make existing cities more energy efficient and to build new sustainable cities is on the rise. Across the globe developers are building smart cities offering high quality eco-friendly living. One of the most ambitious is South Korea's $35-billion-dollar Songdo International Business District.

South Korea is one of the world's most densely populated countries.  When the Songdo project began in 2001, there was no available land to build it. Fifteen hundred acres had to be reclaimed from the sea. 

Today, some of world's best planners, architects, builders and technology companies arecreating Songdo from the ground up.  By 2016, more than 400 new buildings will stand, including South Korea's tallest skyscraper.

Stan Gale, Chairman, Gale International: We took an approach that has the best elements from some of the finest cities in the world. Forty percent of the space is open space. You can leave your car at home and you can walk to central park you can walk your child to school, you can visit an office or a retail shopping center, you can go to the golf course--all within walking distance.

Lee Jong-Cheol, Commissioner, Incheon Free Economic Zone Authority: Once this infrastructure is complete, it will set the standard for all future cities how they're built and the best practices of city planning.

Scott Summers, Vice President, Gale International: The design of the buildings is something you don't see anywhere here in Korea, and we've got state-of-the-art technology going into our buildings.

Jean-Louis Massaut, Director, Cisco Services Korea: The network that we deploy here is actually connecting all of the components in the city.  You know all of the residences, offices, schools everywhere, all of the buildings

In this networked community, residents will be able to control the functions of their homes remotely, and everyone will be able to interact through video from anywhere. New and old technology working together will create a truly sustainable city.

Peter Lee, PE, LEED AP, Cosentini: We didn't just look 10 years ahead, we looked 50, 100 years from now. If  the city achieves half the things that we planned from the start, the quality of life, offered by city will be unmatched.

Stan Gale: Songdo is being studied by many countries, many mayors, many governors as an example of a smart and connected community and a more efficient way of organizing urban living. We hope we contribute to the global footprint in a positive way.

Songdo is one of more than 100 smart city projects underway worldwide.

Learn more here:

Cities of the Future: Songdo, South Korea

Smart + Connected Communities

Songdo IBD