Sejong and Seoul embrace the 15-Minute City: A sustainable urban revolution in South Korea

South Korea is leading the way in urban planning with the concept of “15-minute cities,” aiming to create neighborhoods where residents can access most daily needs within a short walk or bike ride. Sejong, a planned capital city, and Seoul, the bustling capital, are at the forefront of this movement, each with its unique approach to fostering sustainable, community-focused lifestyles.

South Korea is embracing the concept of “15-minute cities” in urban planning, with Sejong being a focal point for this experiment. The idea is to create neighborhoods where residents can access most of their daily needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride, promoting a more sustainable and community-focused lifestyle.

Sejong, established in 2007 as a new planned capital, is envisioned as a “smart city” with green and sustainable features. Despite its design and amenities, opinions on Sejong’s success vary. While it offers modern amenities like high-rise buildings, restaurants, schools, and grocery stores, critics argue that it lacks the vibrancy and accessibility to attract residents away from Seoul, the country’s bustling capital.

Seoul, on the other hand, is also exploring the concept of 15-minute neighborhoods. As a dynamic city, Seoul provides various coworking spaces and accommodations suitable for digital nomads, reflecting its adaptability to modern urban lifestyles.

A 15-minute city is an urban planning concept that aims to create neighborhoods where residents can access most of their daily needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. This model promotes mixed-use development, placing commercial services, transportation, recreational facilities, and other amenities within a short trip that does not require using a personal vehicle. The goal is to enhance accessibility and reduce car dependency, ultimately leading to more livable, accessible, and sustainable urban environments.

The concept of a 15-minute city draws from existing urbanist models and traditional pre-car cities, emphasizing the importance of walkability, compact neighborhoods, and access to essential services. By prioritizing sustainable and active transportation modes like walking and biking, the 15-minute city model aims to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental sustainability. Additionally, the model promotes the creation of quality green spaces within cities, which not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also contributes to improved air quality, biodiversity, and overall environmental health.

This approach aims to reduce the reliance on cars, promote sustainable modes of transportation, and create more vibrant, inclusive communities. By encouraging mixed-use development and prioritizing pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, such as bike lanes and green spaces, the 15-minute city model seeks to enhance the quality of life for residents while reducing carbon emissions and improving overall environmental sustainability.

The key features of a 15-minute city include proximity, sustainable mobility, and the creation of green public spaces. Proximity ensures that essential services, such as schools, healthcare facilities, shops, and recreational areas, are within a short distance from residential areas. This not only reduces the need for long commutes but also promotes a sense of community and social interaction. Sustainable mobility is promoted through the development of pedestrian-friendly streets, dedicated bike lanes, and efficient public transportation systems. These measures aim to reduce car dependency and encourage residents to choose more environmentally friendly modes of transport.

Green public spaces play a crucial role in the 15-minute city model by providing residents with access to nature and recreational areas. These green spaces not only improve air quality and biodiversity but also contribute to the overall health and well-being of the community. By transforming streets into green spaces, the 15-minute city model creates a more pleasant and sustainable urban environment.

Several cities around the world have embraced the 15-minute city model as a way to reduce carbon emissions and create more livable, sustainable communities. Paris, for example, has implemented measures to promote active mobility and reduce car usage, such as expanding bike lanes and pedestrianizing certain areas. Melbourne has adopted a “20-minute neighborhood” model, which aims to create walkable communities where residents can access essential services within a 20-minute walk or bike ride. These initiatives demonstrate the potential of the 15-minute city model to transform urban areas and create a more sustainable future for cities worldwide.