Songdo International Business District, Incheon, South Korea


Songdo International Business District (Songdo IBD)

Songdo International Business District (Songdo IBD) is a new city in Incheon, South Korea. It is the first sustainable city in the world and first LEED certified city in Korea. It is the largest project to be included in the LEED pilot programme outside the US.

The Songdo IBD concept was developed by Gale International along with POSCO E&C. The project is estimated to require an investment of $35bn.

Songdo city will make South Korea the new business hub for national and international companies. Construction of the city began in 2004 and is expected to be completed by 2017. The first phase of the project opened in August 2009. Upon full completion, the city will accommodate 65,000 residents and 300,000 commuters.

Facilities and master plan of the Songdo IBD

"Songdo city will make South Korea the new business hub for national and international companies."

Songdo IBD is being constructed on 1,500 acres of landfill in South Korea along Incheon waterfront. It is located approximately 40 miles (64.3km) west of Seoul and 7 miles (11.2km) from Incheon International airport. The city is given free economic zone status.

The 100m ft² master plan of Songdo IBD includes 10m ft² of retail and civic space, 5m ft² occupied by the Sheraton hotel, 40m ft² for commercial offices, and 35m ft² for residents.

The city will have commercial, cultural and recreational facilities. Few of them include Chadwick International School, hospital, commercial office complex, and residential units. It will also have a convention centre named Convensia, Incheon Arts Center, and an ecotarium which will accommodate cultural gatherings.

Sheraton hotel, Central Park, aquarium, myriad retail space including shopping malls, and Jack Nicklaus golf club will offer relaxation and entertainment in the city.

The master plan includes 600 acres of open space to encourage gatherings and interaction among the people. Central Park is located at the heart of the city. At one end of the park is Northeast Asia Trade Tower (NEATT), the tallest tower in the country. The 68 storey mixed use office tower is located next to 1.2m ft² convention centre. In between the buildings is civic space.

Architecture and inspiration for the Songdo IBD

The IBD's architecture is influenced by several cities in the world. The 100 acre Central Park draws inspiration from New York City Central Park where as pocket parks are designed resembling the ones in Savannah. A Venice style canal system is located inside the park.

The architecture of Convensia convention centre is influenced by Sydney Opera House. The convention centre has the largest column free span in the country.

Songdo international business district design

Easy accessibility to several places within the city is the core of the project design. The transportation network is designed so as to enhance the accessibility within the city and also to the rest of the state.

"Construction of the city began in 2004 and is expected to be completed by 2017."

Express buses and a subway system will be the primary modes of transportation. The bus system will connect to the nearby airport, Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit (SMRT) and also the national railway system. AREX express train will offer connectivity from the IBD to the airport. The subway system will provide mobility within the city and also will link to Seoul. The 7.6 mile Incheon Bridge will connect SIBD and the airport.

The city aims to provide high quality of life to both locals and tourists. Residents can choose to live in apartments or garden residences. The buildings will have about four to 65 stories with approximately 25,000 new housing units.

Sustainability of the green city in Songdo

Sustainability will be the heart of the LEED certified city. LEED NC and / or LEED CS along with Korean Green Building Certification System will be used on selected portions of the plan. Land development agreements will include codes to construct many of the buildings as per LEED standards.

The certifications will ensure that design, construction and development of the city is sustainable. The city will serve as an example for a new, unique and sustainable development in the world.

Approximately 13.7m ft² of space in the city is LEED certified. The certified buildings are the first timers either in Korea or Asia. The buildings are Convensia, Residential Tower in Central Park I, Sheraton hotel and Chadwick International School. In June 2012, the office complex International Business Square in the Songdo IBD gained LEED gold certification.

Design methods will follow clean technologies that will use recycled and local materials, ensure energy savings, are energy efficient and generate clean power.


Related project


Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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Energy efficient traffic lights, motors and pumps will be installed throughout the city. A power generation plant run by natural gas will supply clean power and water heating facility to the city. Recycled water and storm water runoff will be used to achieve water savings. The project will be built surpassing the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) standards.

The city will be operated and designed based on the rule to use recycled and green products. Wet and dry waste will be collected a centralised pneumatic system. About 75% of the construction waste will be recycled. Recycled and local materials will be used in majority. The buildings will be constructed using low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials. Fly ash cement will replace about 20% of ordinary cement used for the construction.

The city will utilise efficient transportation systems. The transportation system will focus on reducing air pollution and emissions. Short haul flights will provide access to other Asian cities. Use of public transportation will be encouraged to reduce the utility of automobiles.

The pedestrian friendly project will be designed with sidewalks and bike routes besides the streets to promote walking and interaction activities.

Parking will be underground to facilitate safe and free walking activities in open space and reduce heat. Charging stations will be provided at parking places in order to achieve low emissions.

Key players involved in the project

City of Incheon, in June 2001, appointed NSIC, a joint venture of Gale International and POSCO E&C, to develop the Songdo IBD project. Cisco, 3M Worldwide and United technologies are the development partners.

Design services were provided by the architectural firm Kohn Pedersen FOX.