The NYTimes has this interesting article about New Songdo City, being built on a landfill island off of Incheon. It sounds like it could really be something and is sidestepping the usual utilitarian flair-free modern Korean development. Or it could be a globalized island sized mall insta-city ideal for multinationals to use in sidestepping the constraints of full Korean sovereignty in pursuit of Mammon. Or something in between... Could extraterritorial rights for foreigners be far behind?

"New Songdo will cost an estimated $30 billion to build, atop the $10 billion that the city of Incheon and the Korean government are spending on infrastructure projects. Every six months, $1 billion in construction is scheduled to begin. Morgan Stanley Real Estate is investing $350 million, and in November, Gale lined up $2.7 billion in financing led by Shinhan Bank....

The South Korean government has designated the area as a free economic zone, a bilingual city (Korean and English) where foreigners can own land and run schools and hospitals and where companies can get relief from Korean taxes and bureaucracy. It is also building a seven-mile bridge that will link New Songdo to Incheon International Airport, off the coast....

...Its 100-acre Central Park will be the centerpiece, with a seawater canal running through it, along with an art museum, an outdoor theater and a sculpture garden. At the park’s northern edge will be Park Avenue, a street of high-end residential buildings and hotels. Its Canal Street will be lined with shops and cafes.

A variety of architects from around the world have been commissioned to design various buildings, including a shopping center by Daniel Libeskind, a museum by the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and a Jack Nicklaus golf course.

Some of the planners’ ideals ran up against Korean preferences, Mr. Gale and Mr. von Klemperer acknowledged. For example, Koreans typically favor large, multilane thoroughfares and large buildings on small plots of land, which don’t support a vibrant street life. A significant amount of debate among the Songdo team and Korean officials was required before the plans were completed.

Environmental considerations were also a priority. Water is recycled citywide, energy produced locally, and the Central Park is planted with low-maintenance native plants and trees, according to Mr. Gale. There will also be bicycle paths and pedestrian areas, and 40 percent of the city is reserved for parks and green space, he said."


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