- Bouwman, O. with Khoubrou, M. and Koolhaas, R. “Al Manakh” Volume 12. Stichting Archis. 2007.
- Cleveland, William L., and Bunton, Martin, Eds. A History of the Modern Middle East, Fourth Edition. Westview Press, Boulder, 2009.
- Elsheshtawy, Y., Ed. Planning Middle Eastern Cities: An Urban Kaleidoscope in a Globalizing World. Routledge, New York, 2004.
- Keeton; Rachel: Rising in the East, Contemporary New Towns in Asia. SUN architecture, Amsterdam 2011, 432 p. ISBN 978-9461-05-6832
- Elsheshtawy, Y., Ed. The Evolving Arab City: Tradition, Modernity & Urban Development. Routledge, Oxfordshire, 2008.
- Reisz, T. “Al Manakh 2” Volume 23. Stichting Archis. 2010.
type of New Town:
> scale of autonomy
source: Keeton; Rachel: Rising in the East, Contemporary New Towns in Asia. SUN architecture, Amsterdam 2011, 432 p. ISBN 978-94
Masdar claimed it would be the world’s first carbon neutral city—it also acted a “green” PR tool for oil-rich Abu Dhabi. As the global economic crisis deepened, however, management has been forced to prioritize and the new town no longer claims carbon neutral status.
Masdar city is a highly planned, eco-city within the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, and situated southeast of it. It is marked as the world’s first carbon neutral, zero-waste city and fully powered by renewable energy.
The New Town, with an area of six square kilometres, presents itself as a model for sustainable urban development delivering the highest quality of living and working environment with the lowest ecological footprint as possible.
The New town is master planned by the London architectural firm Foster + Partners. The urban framework is organized into orthogonal, self-contained courtyard blocks accessed by a single cul-de-sac roads, reflecting traditional Arabic urban planning.
Unlike other Persian Gulf cities, such as Dubai, boasting about monumental skyscrapers, Masdar City stakes on low-rise development. The pedestrian streets make up a grid system further broken down into function-related areas – residential, commercial, etc. The six square kilometres quadrangle is cut by a gently curving road creating a linear open space between two halves. This central line is punctuated with parks and public urban areas. The neighbourhood unit is made up of a series of fareej, traditional Emirati housing consisting of clusters of homes placed around a central courtyard or outdoor recreational space connected to each other by small paths.
The design conforms to the local climate conditions when a shade is needed. To help meet this need, the designers reasonably reduced notorious broad road widths. By using this method, buildings stand closer to each other and create a shade by their roofs, and thus cool the area. Such a planning evokes the typology of traditional walled cities, originally based on the holy city Medina in Saudi Arabia, known as a medina or souk style. Moreover, the city walls serve as a constraint against urban sprawl. By such a strict restraint of the built environment, the planners intend to force an urban densification rather than allow an unchecked expansion.
Among others, the rather Arabian scheme of shaded pedestrian streets is enriched by splendid southern European piazzas which offer a room for open public spaces further used for a building of public facilities and services; such as the social epicentre called Masdar Plaza with the Masdar Hotel and Conference Centre by Australian architecture firm Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA), or the Masdar Headquarters Building with residences, a prayer hall, public and private courtyards, a green space or community gardens designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.
As for a façade, here the designers (from the English firm Arup) paid special attention. The upper frontage is supplemented with delicate, cut out patterns creating arabesque motifs, especially, in the daylight.
Masdar, as an eco-city, based its philosophy on the use of only renewable energies. The regulations of the city allow an entrance only to no gas-guzzling cars, thus only to electric or hybrid vehicles. In order to create a zero-waste city, by 2030 Masdar will operate with zero waste to landfill and will try to recycle all the materials further used for other activities.
Furthermore, the city claims it will minimize a waste generation by 30 percent per person through behavioural changes, policies, and regulations. Also, it will recycle 50 percent of its waste, convert 33 percent to energy by burning, and remaining 17 percent will be composted. In addition, the local government will focus on a reduction of a water consumption in which the United Arab Emirates, with its 550 litres per capita per day, hold the world’s second position, after the USA. The residents will be allowed to use maximally 180 litres per capita per day. This number will be gradually reduced to 146 litres per capita per day.
Other proposal is to use the Light Rail Transport connecting Masdar with Abu Dhabi and other surrounding urban areas to reduce a road transport of commuters and inhabitants. Within the city, there will be available a complimentary under-ground Personal Rapid Transport (PRT) system using solar-powered vehicles in the shape of pods, seating up to 6 passengers, to move inhabitants around the city.
The area is planned to be fully surrounded by a buffer zone crowded with renewable energy technologies like wind farms and photovoltaic fields, also used to cool the city, and by agriculture to supply the city with food. The city itself is meant to be self-sufficient, producing materials and energy from these outer areas. This buffer zone should also ensure no further building and its subsequent spreading urbanization.
To secure the sustainability of the city from the view of the energy consumption, there work ‘green policemen’ having a good track of every inhabitant activity by a monitoring of every, literally, room in the New Town.
Since the global economic crisis (2007), Masdar has been forced to prioritize its activities. By the end of 2010, there were only 35,000 m2 of built-up floor area that is less than 1 percent of the whole unit. In the spring of 2011, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology campus opened. Around the campus, a sushi bar, coffee, organic market, laundry service, bank and other businesses also opened. By 2013, there should take place competitions for other construction projects.
During the construction, several innovative ideas have been implemented. Here could be mentioned the Wind Tower bringing a breeze into the building with the assistance of lids to cool the place. Or ‘air pillows’ situated on outer sides of buildings functioning as the insulation. Many other projects, waiting to be carried out, have been realized as pilot projects in a small scale and are still under the examination.
The ‘ecological’ project aroused a great stir. Many passionate debates have been set off over the Internet, newsgroups or several periodicals where people demur at the meaning of sustainability in the context of Masdar City.