About a thirty minute bus ride from Seoul, lies a new city dedicated to books. An idealistic project to say the least, Bookcity describes itself in detail in its English brochure, here are a few quotes…
‘The vision of Paju Bookcity is to combine all the processes of planning, design, printing, logistics and distribution as a one-stop process.’
‘For the restoration of humanity lost. The Book City, therefore, should be a space for human beings.’
‘Bookmaking is similar to architecture in that it takes pain and effort to design.’
‘A large exhibition hall of architecture… Shows that architecture is not just the outer appearance but a space containing our life so the entire city is expected to show an architectural scene in a good harmony with surrounding nature.’
‘Bookcity is an educational city where people are treated as human beings in a humanist community, which is the main goal of publishing culture.’
Book City faces the same issue that all planned cities face, a lack of life. A lack of layers which make a city interesting. It is not a friendly place for pedestrians, the natural environment has clearly come second to the built environment, despite claims of an ‘Eco-friendly city’. It is definitely an exhibition hall of modern architecture; of protruding angles, curved walls, concrete, printed glass, new materials, of cubes. Despite efforts at trying to be different, it all looks the same. Buildings which could exist anywhere.
To be fair, Bookcity is still under construction and it does make a change from usual industrial areas. Also, idealism and a desire to promote a dying industry must be commended.