Songdo, revisited!

I’ve kept my promise of visiting Songdo in summer 2014! Songdo changed a lot since my last visit in winter 2013. First of all, there were more people on the streets. But it was also 40 degree warmer. Second, many new buildings were constructed or opened. The tallest skyscraper of South Korea opened: the Northeast Asia Trade Tower. It felt like a day isn’t enough to explore Songdo because it hosts so many different buildings, places and activities.

Many people visited and wrote about Songdo since the last visit. For example, Steve Miller made a video about the Incheon Global Campus of Songdo (here’s an article about that campus). Many international organizations moved to Songdo, among them are the Green Climate Fund and World Bank. Just some days ago there was an article about the smart city and eco-city concept of Songdo. In the Guardian Cities Colin Marshall summarized Songdo “as possibly the most humane space of its type”.  Songdo IBD also published a new promotional video about Songdo.

This time I’ve tried to visit places like the Canal Walk and the undeveloped western part that I missed the last time. I’ve took a bicycle to visit less accessible areas.  Read more of this post

Suwon EcoMobility Festival Anniversary

Exactly a year ago a small neighborhood in Suwon transformed into a pedestrian-friendly, car-free are for a whole month. It was the first event of such kind in the world. Residents and visitors could see how the modern city will look like. Personally, I enjoyed it very much. I saw the transformation from a car-dominated, noisy neighborhood to a very special, unique area for pedestrians and community.

In order to remember the festival and celebrate the one-year anniversary Suwon holds a car-free day event right now in Haengguk-dong. For September other events seem to be planned, too. Citizens of Suwon are advised to use public transport and bicycles during September.

suwon-ecomobility

Poster of the Anniversary Event in Suwon City

Here is a summary of all blog posts about the festival on Kojects: Read more of this post

Influence of Chaebols on Korean Cities

Everybody, who visits South Korea, will be surprised by the strong presence of certain companies. They are called Chaebol and among them are internationally famous conglomerates like Samsung, Hyundai and LG. It’s almost impossible to imagine that they are active in so many different, totally unrelated business areas if you have never saw it with your own eyes. But how does their power manifests in the urban surroundings in Korea?  Read more of this post

Facelift for Yonsei University Campus

20140728_191958The most renowned universities in Korea are Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University, often summarized as “SKY”. They are always at the maximum of their capacity for students. Therefore, they build more facilities or establish new campuses to host more students. In my two years at SNU I saw the construction and opening of five new buildings. A very famous example of campus improvement in Korea is the campus valley of Ewha University, designed by Dominique Perrault. Yonsei also tries to improve their campus. If you visit their main campus now, you will see a huge construction site. Read more of this post

Amazing Dongdaemun Design Plaza

dongdaemun design plaza (5)Finally I visited the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, in short DDP, which opened on March 21st. As you can already tell by the name, it lies in the famous Dongdaemun shopping area. This very futuristic building is the new hub for design and modern culture in Korea. It is also very photogenic design, so  I took pictures with my phone and GoPro (so some pictures have a wide-angle, fish-eye effect!). If you want to see better pictures, please go to Robert Koehler’s Flickr-page or to his Tumblr. Let’s explore the Dongdaemun Design Plaza together. Read more of this post

A Ride through the EcoMobility Festival Area

In my previous post with pictures of Haenggunk-dong after the EcoMobility World Festival, I promised to upload some videos. Here they are! They show a ride through this area along the main street and then through many side alleys before getting back on the main road. If the videos feel strange, then it’s because I used the Youtube stabilization feature. Here’s the first video, which ends with a funny surprise:

Then we got back on the main street and experienced various sorts of traffic on the streets:

Haenggunk Neighborhood After the EcoMobility Festival

After EcoMobility (7)On Friday, October 25, I revisited Haengkung-dong in Suwon. This neighborhood was the showcase for the first EcoMobility World Festival. I wrote about it several times in the last few months. Almost one month ago the sustainable transport-experiment finished and the area opened again for cars. This was my first visit since the end of the festival. I didn’t have any high expectations and actually, I thought that the situation would be bad (a pedestrian-unfriendly area) but I was positively surprised. Come with me on a virtual walk through Haengkung-dong!

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The Truth About Korea’s Invisible Skyscraper Tower Infinity

towerinfinity-3

(Source: Archinect)

Since a couple of days my news feed is filled with articles with the headlines “Seoul’s Invisible Tower”, “World’s First Invisible Skyscraper in Seoul, Korea”, “Infinity Tower Will Light Up Seoul’s Sky” and so on. On the right you can see a picture of picture of the planned skyscraper. The origin of this buzz is an article at Archinect about the official permission to begin construction. A lot of friends also posted articles on Facebook, which emphasized the obscurity of this project. All articles contain wrong information which I will try to correct as best as possible. This article is going to clarify the location and context of the project.

While doing research for this issue, I wasn’t easy to find Korean articles about this building. It seems like that the official name of the building is “Cheongna City Tower”. The winner of the design competition GDS Architects named it as “Tower Infinity”. In this post I’ll just use the Tower Infinity or Infinity Tower because this is probably the least important mistake.

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Opening of EcoMobility Festival

Today on September 1 was the opening of EcoMobility World Festival in Suwon. When I arrived there at 5 pm, the festival was already in full swing. There was a large stage in front of the Haenggung Palace. It was so amazing to see the result of months of constructions and planning. Someone told me that the last construction sites finished in the night. There was still a smell of fresh asphalt in the air.

The main road outside the neighborhood is also partially closed. Only buses and taxis are allowed to drive on the lane towards south, the other lane was open was all traffic and the rest was kept free of traffic. I’m not sure if it’s going to be the whole month like this because it is a very important street in Suwon with a lot of traffic.

EcoMobility

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Update on Preparations of EcoMobility Festival

IMG_3758On Tuesday, August 20th, I was again at the festival area of the EcoMobility Festival. I wanted to see how far the preparations proceeded. You remember that the festival starts in September, 11 days after I took the pictures (and less than a week after this post).  I was surprised in many ways and I got a totally different impression of the neighborhood than at my first time. Please read beforehand my other posts about the festival (General Introduction to EcoMobility World FestivalPictures of my first visit).

Let’s start with the way towards the district. The road outside of the festival area got a new surface not too long ago. The street lines are still missing but the traffic is already operating there as usual.

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