For the first time in human history, there are more people living in urban environments than in rural ones. This monumental demographic shift has come as cities in growing nations are growing at a breakneck pace, and not always with an eye toward efficiency and sustainability.
Environmentally, these quickly expanding cities can prove problematic, to say the least, generating massive waste management difficulties, air quality problems and traffic.
The New Songdo International Business District in Inchon, South Korea, will feature mass transit, a self-watering park and a centralized pneumatic waste-disposal system. Gale envisions New Songdo as a business hub and a “smart and sustainable city,” featuring extensive public transportation, open space, water management and a centralized pneumatic waste-disposal system. Every building in the city will be certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for energy efficiency.
Of course, New Songdo is far from the first city to make almost-utopian promises about building the great city of tomorrow. Its designers say they hope to learn from the mistakes of other planned cities like Brazil’s Brasilia to answer the complex challenge of building a city that didn’t evolve organically but still feels human and livable. According to Murcott, Gale has already entertained more than 40 offers from Chinese municipalities that are hoping for developments similar to New Songdo in their own areas, and the company has plans for several new projects throughout the country. One project in Meixi Lake will feature a five-mile-long network of urban farms.