Jorge Chapa

WORLD'S LARGEST SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

by , 12/08/07

libya, cyrene, libia, foster, norman foster, sustainable, archeologica, urban design, mediterranean, hotels, tourism, eco-tourism, renewables, education, planning, greek, greece, roman, italy

A project for the world’s largest sustainable region has been announced and is expected to include all the things that one would expect in a sustainable development: renewable energy, environmentally responsible town planning, micro-banking, education, and biofuels. Where? The ancient city of Cyrene, Libya.


The ancient Greeks developed the area of Cyrene around 631 BC. It thrived for almost 1,000 years, passing from the Greeks to the Romans, only to fall prey to an earthquake around 365 AD. Needless to say, this is an extremely important site from a historical perspective; UNESCO recognized this and listed it as a World Heritage Site in 1982.

The plan is to create an area of sustainable development around the 2,046 square miles area, known appropriately enough as the Green Mountain. To do this, Saif al-Islam has created the Green Mountain Conservation and Development Authority, which is led by none other than Sir Norman Foster. While it’s too early to announce concrete details, initial concepts already speak of an integrated development that promises to protect this historical site, as well as Libya’s 136 mile-long undeveloped Mediterranean coastline, one of the few remaining undeveloped coastlines in the world.

If the project ever gets off the ground – and there’s no guarantee that it will – it will take certain measures to protect development along the coastline. For instance, instead of building right on the coastline and wrecking the natural habitat, developments will be pushed farther back. Also, any town planning will tightly minimize automobile use and urban sprawl, and zones of forest and agriculture will be spread around to create buffer zones.

There are, of course, contradictions. The first projects are already being planned, and they are, naturally, extremely exclusive hotels. Aside from the pros and cons of tourism, there is no airport as of yet or the infrastructure to support such activity. Still, in many ways, they are ambitious plans.

“This is one of the most beautiful and little-known landscapes on Earth. We’ve been give a unique challenge: to establish a sustainable blueprint for future development which will be sensitive to the history of the Green Mountain and to its conservation,” said Lord Foster.

+ Libya unveils bold ecotourism project
+ Foster + Partners

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4 Comments

  1. anna December 17, 2007 at 9:30 am

    can a nice a fluffy sounding development really make Libya a tourism centre? is architecture really that powerful?

    as much as i love it, i think that architecture unfortunately is not that powerful.

    or perhaps it is fortunate in this case that architecture is not that powerful.

  2. dianejwright December 10, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Wait. Isn’t the most sustainable development for a pristine landscape such as this–”most beautiful and little-known landscapes on Earth”–no development at all?

    Sure, that’s the obvious answer but really? Isn’t it? Can’t we push to redevelop existing nightmare zones if progress must march on? If developers must develop? We collectively continue to see pots of commercial gold when we look at lovely unspoiled nature and, frankly, all that money is only going to make it all better for a few people who will eventually move on.

    This “coastal region has the potential to become one of the world’s most desirable tourist destinations” smacks of the same eco-tourism that has pillaged Costa Rica. So we announce to the world that we’re protecting something worth protecting and simultaneously prepare for the hoards booking tickets to come eyeball what’s being protected. What?

  3. solar-power-wind December 10, 2007 at 9:07 am

    “plan is to create an area of sustainable development around the 2,046 square miles”
    This is beautiful, but I am not sure how 100 sq miles of green development come from 160 miles of coastline. Libya has a history of oil production, and neither oil nor tourism are locally sustainable economies.
    Very green, and as hotels go, that adds to the resort feel.
    I would have rather seen a terraced, ancient Greek style labor and tool agriculturally site go up. I dream.

  4. vanrijn December 8, 2007 at 2:29 am

    That is something!!!!!

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