Written by Staff Writer at CNN Seoul, South Korea
In 2050, Seoul may look just like today.
The city is planning what would be a futuristic and “smart” city made up of an ultra-modern tower, the Cheonggyecheon. It is an incredibly ambitious project to be sure, and it is some time off, yet a first vision of the future design was released Thursday
Looking strikingly like a bow-tied owl looking down on an awestruck skyscraper, the structure is already being billed as “a 10-minute city” with better public transport and underground links than what is currently available.
Here are five things you need to know:
1. Cheonggyecheon river is lined with blocks of under-utilized commercial space
In many ways the Cheonggyecheon River is as much a victim of the Korean culture of developing around urban parks as it is an urban space.
A part of Seoul’s colonial past, the region forms a small but important part of the city’s landscape.
Although at one point it was planted with rice paddies, over the past century the river was used for nothing but business purposes. The area lacked sufficient outdoor space and was surrounded by warehouses, power plants and businesses.
What’s needed now is a corridor to connect the busy urban area with the river, allowing for walking and cycling. A high-capacity tunnel is planned to link an under-used portion of the river to the riverfront and future plans suggest Cheonggyecheon could become the “heart of a ‘smart city’.”
2. Expectations of the building are… high
The Cheonggyecheon City Master Plan was developed by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and city design firm Dae Jin Woo & Associates. It already draws on the rigorous environmental standards currently in place in South Korea.
“The purpose of urban planning is not to suit the needs of the property developers; it is to meet the needs of the public — and here you have that,” explains project architect Keiwon Cho.
Cho hopes the new complex will become Seoul’s “centerpiece.” The tower will feature a riverfront area where events, concerts and theatre performances can take place.
3. The new city will be recycled and recycled again
“The whole process is one of repeating processes, recycling,” said developer Hyundai Land in a release.
Preparations for the project, dubbed “smart city,” are already underway. In the past two years, environmental projects around the city have already cut energy use by 20%, with the aim of reaching 30% by 2020.
Environmentally-friendly project “People+Works” transforms unused office buildings into affordable apartments, providing new housing for local families.
4. Work on the new city will start in April 2019
“Our fundamental goal is to create a strong ecological hub, a place where people live and work by making Seoul as the safest and cleanest city in Asia,” said Cho at a news conference Thursday.
He adds, “We will make Cheonggyecheon a city which is safe for children and for those with disability.”
5. The Korean government is responsible for the project
Leveraging on the country’s considerable resources, the project has been financed by Seoul, its nine municipalities and its corporate partners. The local government, he said, planned to create 5,000 jobs over the next decade, but added that there was no commitment to awarding contracts to specific companies.