Neom City 600 yen… Is it a mirage or a new world? – Korea Economic Daily

500m high, 170km straight ‘The Line’ city
Lined up Lotte Tower from Seoul to Gangneung
Possibility of high modular construction

Overview of the Neom City project./Graphic Lee In-sik

[대한경제=박병탁 기자] ‘Mr. Everything (a person who can do anything)’ Bin Salman, the Crown Prince (Prime Minister) of Saudi Arabia, caused a stir last week in the business world. In accordance with his visit to Korea, it is known that the Saudi government and domestic companies have signed about 20 project contracts in various fields such as energy, construction, railway, and modular, which are tens of trillions of won. Most of the gift packages unpacked by Bin Salman are closely related to NEOM CITY, an extremely large future city with a total project cost of 600 trillion won.

Neom City is a smart city built in the northwest desert and near the Red Sea, about 1,000 km from Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. With a city size 44 times larger than Seoul (26,500 km2) and a huge project cost ($500 billion), it has excited the global construction industry since its announcement in 2017.

However, evaluations are mixed as to whether it will present a ‘second Middle East boom’ for domestic companies or whether it will end in a mirage as a coronation show for the young crown prince.

What is certain is that the mega-project has already begun. Neom City includes ‘THE LINE’, a linear city of 170 km, ‘Oxagon’, an octagonal industrial complex with a diameter of 7 km, and ‘Trogena’, a mountain tourism area built on Mt. (Trojena) ‘.

Among them, Samsung C&T and Hyundai E&C started building tunnels for high-speed rail, which is the main mode of transportation, for The Line, where the city is located. In addition, as the detailed bird’s eye view of The Line and the detailed direction of the project were revealed in July, reactions are emerging saying, “There are many challenging elements, but it is not an empty dream now.”

The most impressive project in Neom City is ‘The Line’, a high compacted city. A forest of buildings with a height of 500m and a width of 200m, the same as the Lotte World Tower (555m), stretches 170km from Seoul to Gangneung.

The question is whether it can be built. The Line is climate friendly and built with an external modular construction method. The plan is to complete the city by manufacturing customized modules in a factory, just as different types of cars are made in factories.

Lee Jun-seong, a professor in the Department of Architecture and Urban System Engineering at Ewha Womans University, said, “I don’t think anything is technically impossible. As steel-based OSC (Off-Site Construction) comes in frequently, modular materials will be used frequently,” he said.

Ha Tae-hoon, a senior researcher at Daewoo E&C, who has experience in high-rise building construction, said, “There is no problem in implementing (a modular approach) structurally. However, how to build it needs a study.” Currently, Neom is said to have placed orders for core construction only.

On the other hand, there are quite a few skeptical responses as the modular approach has never been fully used in tall buildings. Kim In-han, a professor of architecture at Kyunghee University, pointed out that “internationally, the maximum height of a modular building is about 50 stories,” and “it’s impossible with current technology.” “Buildings with three or more floors are built with modular systems connecting steel frames or PC units with RC cores, and this has also been achieved through years of technological development,” he said.

“As the world’s largest construction project, it will be an opportunity to create and invest in future technologies and ecosystems,” said Roger Nickels, head of design and construction for the NEOM project.

Reporter Park Byeong-tak ppt@dnews.co.kr

〈ⓒ Daehan Economic Daily (www.dnews.co.kr), unauthorized reproduction, collection and redistribution prohibited〉

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