26 Nov New Utopia: The Songdo project
What is Songdo? A new software? A new geek toy? A new manga maybe? Nope. It’s a U-city project. I can see you in front of your screen « pleaaaaase speak english, you freaky boy ». Ok I’m gonna try to explain it. First, I may say that I found this totally randomly on Internet. And it was… amazing at first glance.
The project began in July 2001. Located at the site of General MaArthur’s 1950 landing, Songdo will be in 2014 the first « new » city in the world designed and planned as an international business district. Built on 1500 acres of reclaimed land, it is the most ambitious undertaking of its kind, including a Central Park (like New York’s), a system of canals (like Venice’s), an International School, an International hospital, an ecotarium, and museum, 50000m2 of office space (including a landmark 65-story tower and a convention center), 30000m2 of residential space, 10000m2 of retail, 5000m2 of hotel space and 10000m2 of green space.
But the most incredible thing is that Songdo will be a large « ubiquitous city ». A ubiquitous city is where all major information systems (residential, medical, business, governmental and the like) share data, and computers are built into the houses, streets, and office buildings. Imagine public recycling bins that use radio-frequency identification technology to credit recyclers everytime they toss in a bottle, pressure-sensitive floors in the homes of older people that can detect the impact of a fall and immediately contact help, cellphones that store health records and can be used to pay for prescriptions. The smart-card house key can be used to get on the subway, pay a parking meter, see a movie, borrow a free public bicycle and so on. Residents will enjoy full videoconferencing calls between neighbors, video on demand and wireless access to their digital content and property from anywhere in Songdo. This is what life will be in Songdo, the most ambitious U-city project (a very and uniquely Korea idea).
In the West, ubiquitous computing is a controversial idea that raises privacy concerns and the specter of a surveillance society. But in Asia the concept is viewed as an opportunity to show off technological prowess and attract foreign investment.
Who is behind this project? The former Yahoo! design leader, John Kim, 35yo Korean-American who is now the vice-president for strategy at New Songdo City Development, a joint-venture of the Gale Company, a US developer, and POSCO E&C, a subsidiary of South Korea’s giant steel company.
Songdo is finally a kind of Utopia, an idealized expression of the values and desires emanating from the political economy, with a full embrace of globalization: free-markets, linguistic homogenization (english will be the official lingua franca), rhetorical promotion of sustainability.
And here is what it will look like:
And some monitoring pictures of the project:presently