Last weekend, I finally got a chance to check out Songdo New City, a massive new international business district being developed on 1,500 acres of reclaimed land off Incheon. Architecturally, it has the potential to be really spectacular, with Kohn Pedersen Fox’s masterplan highlighted by the 68-floor Northeast Asia Trade Tower (seen above) and the 151-floor twin spires of Incheon Tower, which will be the world’s second tallest building when it’s completed in 2015. Add to it the nice seaside location—including the spectacular Incheon Bridge—and some and you have the potential for a truly pleasant cityscape — perhaps the most pleasant cityscape in Korea.
Unfortunately, while a lot has been completed, the city is still far from completed, and there didn’t appear much in the way of actual people. I imagine this will change once things are done — I’m told the apartment prices in Songdo are rather high, which would seem to suggest somebody’s buying. During my visits, it sort of felt like “28 Days Later.”
Anyhow, if you’re in Songdo — and even half complete, it’s worth a looksie — you’ll want to check out Central Park, which is a nice little piece of urban planning. Greenery, a sea water canal, bridges and some intriguing pieces of modern architecture (see below)… it’s all you could ask for in an urban park. On a windy autumn day, it makes for a nice stroll. I’m told you can take a water taxi down the canal: I didn’t, but I’m sure it’s lovely enough.
Tri-Bowl: The Mothership Has Landed
Perhaps the most distinctive piece of architecture in Songdo (so far) is the “Tri-Bowl,” so named because it looks like, well, three bowls. Designed by Korean architect Yoo Kerl, the three bowls — which function as a exhibition space — represent the “sky (airport),” “sea (port),” and “land (metropolitan traffic network).” Or so they say:
This building, built to celebrate the 2009 Incheon Global Fair & Festival, has been built on a total of 2764m² of land with three floors above ground and one underground. It is located next to Central Park Station Exit #4 in 24-6 Songdo-dong, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon Metropolitan City (approximately 12,300m²). The exterior wall of the Tri-Bowl has been covered with aluminum to provide urban sophistication. The three bowls shapes represent the ‘sky (airport)’, ‘sea (port)’, and ‘land (metropolitan traffic network). Additionally, they represent ‘Songdo (business)’, ‘Cheongna (leisure)’, and ‘Yeongjong (logistics)’.
It’s become something of a myeongso (famous place) for photographers, especially at night, when it’s lit up and really does look like a spaceship touching down.
Added Bonus: Incheon Bridge
Just a photo I took of Incheon Bridge last year. Not nearly as nice as these ones, though.
Ordinarily, I’d have more info on places to eat, etc., but I really didn’t explore the city — I spent most of the day showing a friend around Incheon’s historic waterfront (photo essay coming really soon). I’m open to suggestions, though.
Really simple: Central Park Station, Incheon Subway Line 1. It exits right next to the Tri-Bowl.