Gallery: Plans for Foster’s Masdar Carbon Neutral City Debut


Norman Foster’s Masdar City is poised to become world’s most sustainable, zero-waste, car-free, carbon neutral city. The model for the city was formally unveiled on 21st January at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. We’ve talked about the grand scheme before, but the official debut deserves some new attention, given its viewing and support from everyone from General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company and even President George W. Bush. The construction would start the next month, and the city is likely to open in late 2009.

The city, to be built on an area of six square kilometers on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, has been designed by British architect Lord Foster (Foster and Partners). The city would be walled on all sides, and house 50,000 people and 1,500 businesses. The electricity for the entire city would be generated by solar energy harnessed by photovoltaic panels. To start with, a large solar power station would be built that would meet the energy requirements during the construction of the city, while buildings would be cooled by wind towers.

As for site planning, the city would be oriented north-east to south-west to ensure optimum balance of sunlight and shade. There would be no cars zooming around the city, with residents getting to and from via trains and automated transport pods. Three levels for movement for the city would include a light railway between Masdar to Abu Dhabi, a second level for pedestrians, and a third for “personalized rapid transport pods.” The public transportation has been so planned that none of the city’s inhabitants will be more than 200 meters from the nearest public transportation link. Systems would encourage reuse and minimal resources, with 99% of the waste generated in the city getting reused, or composted, and all waste water would be reused as well, with solar energy desalination systems.

In Arabic, Masdar means “the source”, and the Masdar Initiative aims to become the leading source of the world’s future energy solutions. We’ll keep you posted on the progress of the construction!

+ Foster and Partners


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  5. BEN March 13, 2008 at 6:44 pm


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  9. PaTrond February 24, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    It looks horrible and squared. Let SnoArc handle it instead…
    But the world has something to learn from this.

  10. Nathan February 9, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    I’ll be interested to watch this project evolve over my lifetime. It strangely reminds me of the Biosphere 3 project outside of Tucson, Arizona. It went great for a few years until eventually things went out of whack with its internal environment. Granted, this is an open environment. But I still think it’s going to be an interesting learning process for city developers. They’ll learn what works and what doesn’t from this for sure. For a person who yearns for country dwelling I’m not too excited about living in a project like this. I think it’s good for city dwellers though.

  11. MATTHEW ROSE February 9, 2008 at 6:05 am

    A friend of mine here in Paris is looking into buying a yourte. Some can be 120 m. sq., and you can pick up a smaller one, attach it to the larger one for your bath house. They are produced in wood, wool and felt (and cord I guess). Cost is only 10K euros. Another old home technology finding its way in the marketplace.

    Matthew Rose

  12. Tim February 8, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Does “carbon neutral” include the carbon spent building and maintaining the city, and any non-recyclable imports? How do you account for use of high energy and limited lifespan technology such as computers and mobile phones?

    Will they use composting toilets?

  13. Richie February 8, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Great ! Complete in scope and vision ! In a non-democratic country like Abu Dhabi… this can get done without a legislature messing things up with earmarks and attachments (AKA: ‘Pork’ !). And surely, Abu Dhabi has shown that it wishes to lead in many progressive areas. So this whole thing seems like a great fit ! Another showplace for the Arab world… and the genius of Norman Foster gets to lead us forward to greater things.

    Nice !

  14. Lex February 7, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Why does this remind me of e-waste artist Chris Jordan? (post from 30 January)

  15. Anson February 7, 2008 at 3:31 am

    Its interesting to see this project coming up after recently visiting Abu Dhabi and Dubai. To see an entire part of a city thats economy is based on oil turn into from what i can tell to be a living city is amazing. I do hope that part of building this comes from humane practices in human rights as opposed to the rest of the country. Doubt it though.

  16. Michael McCollum February 7, 2008 at 1:12 am

    cities grow every day. it will interesting just to see the process unfold, humanely one hopes.
    I had a vision once of cities the size of mountains, complex, tetrahedrons and such.
    I think we’d all be right happy to live on a single blade of grass if we could just get that to work for us somehow.
    here’s hoping / peace ahn earth / and in those city streets. eh? cheers.

  17. Jonce February 6, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    This is very exciting but what happens when peak population is reached? Will people be forced out of the city when there is no longer room for growth?

  18. wlai February 6, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    norman foster has got to be the only architect with enough ego and hyperbole to design and market something like this. this will no doubt shed lights on what doesn’t work as much as what does work.

  19. MATTHEW ROSE February 6, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Always enjoy your blog. Rewriting our cities will take a very long time, as you know. I’m working in a smaller way with advertising, promoting here in Paris a printed ad and book idea that is quite old : the one page book. People can save money and paper and ink by printing on a single side of an A4 or A3 sheet, fold the little guy into an 8 page book. If you would take a look and let me know what you think about this, I’d very very appreciative.

    All the best, Matthew Rose / Paris, France

  20. Will February 6, 2008 at 8:02 am

    It looks as if they’re planning to use the Ultra PRT system currently being installed as a pilot scheme at Heathrow terminal 5 …

  21. vladie February 6, 2008 at 5:32 am

    The trailer for the Masdar Initiative looks to me like a trailer for a Hollywood movie. It would’ve been showy if Dart Vader shows at some point of the video and says: “No more scuba sets. Clean air for every side – bad and good!” :-)

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