Gallery: ZIGGURAT: Dubai’s Carbon Neutral Pyramid Will House 1 Million


The Mayans and Egyptians constructed incredible feats of architecture able to weather the test of time, but they had no idea their pyramids would inspire the shape of the latest carbon-neutral super-structure to hit Dubai. Dubai-based environmental design firm Timelinks showed off some eye-catching renderings of the gigantic eco pyramid – aptly named Ziggurat. The ginormous pyramid will cover 2.3 square kilometers and will be able to sustain a “community” of up to 1 million.

Timelinks claims that their Ziggurat will be capable of running completely off the grid by utilizing steam, wind, and other natural resources. The tightly knit city will also feature a super efficient public transportation system that runs both horizontally and vertically, and plans are being drawn up to utilize both public and private green spaces for agricultural opportunities.

According to the International Institute for the Urban Environment, the technologies incorporated into the Ziggurat project will make it a viable metropolis, and Timlinks has responded by quickly patenting the design and technology developed for the project. A number of European professors will be on hand at CityScape Dubai to explain how the Ziggurat project can be incorporated into grander plans, meaning that it may not be a one-off structure.

Via World Architecture News


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  1. Steven Martinez September 16, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    @concerned_human, your being two pessimistic about all this, it’s a remarkable idea that deserves support. The emphasis of this is on the idea of a massive building being able to house and sustain a million people instead of using up all the land around it. It’s not a country it’s a community that will be governed the same way any community in that country would be, the same way here if we even had the balls to do this we would still be under a representative democracy

  2. concerned_human April 20, 2013 at 1:44 am

    When I first saw pictures of this being passed around on Facebook I thought it was some Venus Project thing that looked like the government ministry buildings in George Orwell\’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Then I looked it up and realized it was actually for real.

    Some of the blogs and news sources that are writing about this are jumping with glee all over this thing without considering the implications. A metropolis of 1 million people, that as far as I can tell, will be owned and controlled by a single private entity (that has patents on the design and technology which means they don\’t even want to share this technology with the world–so much for their benevolent and altruistic intentions). This is just as Orwellian as it appears.

    \”Eco-pyramid\”, oh please. This type of corporate reclamation and re-framing of environmental discourse with \”Green\” and \”Eco-\” marketing strategies distorts our understanding of the issues we face, and ultimately threatens to undermine how we as a society attempt to deal with them. Like all other forms of totalitarianism during the 20th century, it is being branded as cutting-edge and futuristic, a wonderous monolithic vanguard of a new era.

    If the Soviet Union was \”carbon-neutral\” would we have gone apesh!t with joy all over it too?

    We need to think carefully and deeply about the path we\’re taking towards our future. Just because it looks fancy and has \”eco\” in the name doesn\’t necessarily mean it\’s good.

  3. Nilvio January 1, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    No concept designed from the top down will ever survive for long; even worse, this concept subjugates nature to human thinking which garanties its eventual failure. No empire had endured nature cycles.

    Think from the ground up, involve one individual and his family, makes them self suficient with zero carbon footprint and expand horizontally until you get the base of the pyramid formed by soverign communities.

    Then, when all these communities are integrated in nature cycles, and only then, you can go upwards. These ideas can be easily achieved beginning with the core CELSS concept already scientifically proven.

  4. host universal July 11, 2011 at 11:09 am

    inspiring, if that were the thames we could be looking at a new vision for london. R

  5. RodgerTheDodger November 2, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Pity it’ll ever be built. The ideology behind such a building is highly commendable even if the labor laws in the country aren’t. It would be nice to see such a building built even just as a prototype, although it would be more practical to situate it in places such as Tokyo where land area to population ratio makes it more viable.

  6. perfectcirclecarpenter June 2, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    I believe the Dubai labor issue is centered around the practice of recruiters who illegally and blatantly charge workers a fee, further enforced by the companies… also the practice of withholding workers paperwork and initial pay for months after they arrive, preventing them from leaving. Additionally, it is illegal for them to pursue a second job, upon realizing they are condemned to the first. Quite often disputes are allegedly settled over the edge of an upper story construction site, after which it is officially documented as a work accident. The Dubai gov’t is completely corrupt and does nothing, it is a wonder that they even have a law that says recruiters cannot charge immigrant workers.

    As for the population density, one million in 2.3 miles… i have a proposal for a linear city that achieves a population density of 10,000 people per square mile, providing a generous living space of 1000 sq ft per person on average, and a 10 story limit on condos. To reach a million in 6 square miles, you need an average of 50 floors, with an average of 100 sq ft per person. Thats pretty good for crowded eastern standards, where in some places the living space is 10 square feet.

  7. Bahramerad June 2, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Is this a prison ?

  8. dakotamundi April 9, 2009 at 2:24 am

    Shoe-String, Paolo Soleri is indeed a visionary, but Arcosanti is only scaled for 5,000 people. Its very labor intensive and after 30 years is only 3% complete. It is a community not a city and has the benefit of all its inhabitants subscribing to a common purpose and a master urban plan. Getting 1 million people on the same page, much less under the same roof is going to cause exacerbation of class struggles (who gets the best views, and who lives in the bowels over the garbage bins?) and will put a strangle hold on commodities as there only appears to be four roads going in and out (hopefully not toll roads :)
    Dubai is indeed an intresting test in the question of capital driven growth vs. organic communal growth. I would recommend Jane Jacobs book Death and Life of Great American Cities as a possibility of what could happen if the economies of 1 million people are not planned before shoving them all in there. Communities grow organically through human connection over time, it is not a case of just add lime, water and greenwash.

  9. Shoe_String April 5, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Why does everyone refuse believe that large numbers of people can live on a small area of land together? With the collaboration of the some of the greatest architectural and engineering minds of the time, do you honestly think that an “arcology” such as this would even be seriously considered for construction if it did not take into consideration the fact that people don’t want to live like sardines in a can? The point of these types of structures is to build UP, thus reducing the amount or area of land used for housing, and increase the amount of land available for agriculture, forestry and the like, by allowing people to live comfortably ON TOP of each other, not crammed into the same space. For those who have the “I hate city living and need my space and peace and quiet” attitude, you need to realize that this little blue speck of a planet we live on just ain’t big enough for everyone to have their own “forty acres and a mule” and still survive with regards to food and water shortage, as well as pollution and waste.. I suggest to all of those who are still unconvinced, go do a bit of googling on Paolo Soleri and his ideal arcology concept. It IS!!! one of the best solutions (if not the best) to rapidly expanding global population and environment preservation out there. ‘nuf said.

  10. mike January 13, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    I can’t see this working, everyone’s going to go nuts in there. !,000,000 over 2.3 miles, I’m sure there’s an up factor involved too but, your going to food and entertainment for 1,000,000? Lots of tractor trailers going back and forth all day. 4 roads in and out. lots of trash. No ocean front.
    I’ll take where i live, 5 minutes from the beach, with out 1,000,000 neibours living on top of me.

  11. inthetrees January 2, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    This probably won’t get built. If it does, it probably won’t get finished.

  12. cichco September 20, 2008 at 2:26 am

    I understand people that have concerns about the psychological effects of a building like this, but for the environment we are bit more on track. It is especially good in a poverty stricken region such as this. I think it’s time that more started thinking about living and culture in this sense. It would help not only the environment but financial structures of a state.
    The pros here far outweigh the cons.

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  14. Godman September 2, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    This so called ziggurat is just decadent housing for all the children and wives of the shieks.And of course the kitchen staff.Money for nothin get your chicks for free!

  15. doug l September 2, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    I love the concept but why is the structure’s surface so antithetical to natural beauty? Wouldn’t this be a better design if the exterior were to emulate a natural landscape, offer habitat for compatible wildlife like birds, bees and bats and recreation and stellar views for the inhabitants. Why do architects always seem to impose the flat inorganic surface of post industrial revolutionary industrial products on structures that could just as easily support a forest and waterfalls?

  16. » Blog Archive &r... August 30, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    […] Ziggurat will house 1 Million read more […]

  17. Toronto August 29, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Interesting that it\\\’s impossible to discuss urban planning or architecture without acommpanying dialogue about $$$, race, human rights etc etc. This is completely reasonable. Ultimately any architectural model for urban growth can be horific or fantastic depending on how it is used and who is housed there. For example while we decry the large public housing projects of western cities, we are actually building on the same model for the middle class and marketing them as condos. So this argument can only ever go sideways.

    However we can at least look closely at any effort to reduce our planetary footprint. My major beef with this type of visionary project is that it will never be built and the real challenge is how to deal with the mess we already have in front of us. How does Dubai (or anywhere else) deal with the current inefficient and wasteful land-use paradigms in an way that can be incrementally developed without wasting what we have already built.

  18. badmoon August 28, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    dethmonk, are you talking about the same basic human rights afforded to Mexican immigrants. I know, you will tell me they are undocumented, so that justifies the treatment they get. But human rights knows no document. You need to get off your high horse and look inwards first before being so cynical and critical.

    If you dont like the immigrant example, what of the 1,000’s of US citizens of Arab decent that have had their rights abused.

    I guess when you talk of basic human rights, its only in your world. Wake up and smell the coffee.

  19. dethmonk August 28, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    This is going to be a great achievement! And all the while failing to abide by any basic human rights.

    Where will they put the death ray?

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  21. fruityice August 27, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    badmoon thanks for you response.
    Dubai has to be admired whether people like it or not

  22. josnoe August 27, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Where’s the virtual tour?

  23. badmoon August 27, 2008 at 4:02 am

    Your money is not funding these projects. The US imports mostly from these countries…. the UAE is not one of them

    Enough with this “we buy oil from people who hate us”. No We Don’t!

    When the west builds monuments or architectural wonders, we applaud. When Arabs do it, we sneer. Isn’t that just racism speaking. Look at Vegas. Everything they built there was a wonder. No bleep from anyone. As a matter of fact the rest of the world admired the “vision”.

    So bravo to the leaders of Dubai and the rest of the emirates that spend their capital on improving infrastructure and standard of living.

    As for the workers that do all the labor, at least they weren’t brought in by ships (American slaves), plus they are paid wages, unlike the slaves that worked our cotton fields.

  24. Crixxtachi August 26, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    alainb Says:
    Add karma Subtract karma +0
    August 25th, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Im glad to know where my gas dollars are going

    you know, you could be less of an ignorant bigot and actually know what your saying before you say it…

    Dubai’s oil sales make up LESS than 3% of their economy! they made the concious decision to have economic growth separate and apart from the oil business and they have done MASTERFULLY well . They invest and make great business decisions, they should be applauded not jeered no need to transfer your obvious latent racism to this topic for no reason.

  25. addie_620 August 26, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    How come one render looks like its in South America while the other looks like it where it should be…in the desert??? I look at this stuff and wonder what Palo Solari thinks of it. Don’t know him? Look him up : )

  26. Will August 26, 2008 at 10:52 am

    I also am wondering where that lush landscape is, as that certainly isn’t Dubai!

    I read a great article about China and how they are building a zero-carbon city just outside of Shanghai. Its called Dongtan. The article was called \\\”A New Green City for China found at

  27. Greg936 August 26, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Stop feeling so bad for the workers. Fact is, they are making MUCH more than they would be in their home lands, and they come to Dubai on their own because of that. In turn Dubai gets work done cheaper. Think about it… Why would you hire 100,000 educated people from Europe for 25$ an hour if you can get 100,000 people from poorer countries and pay them 600dhs a month (about what they make here). It’s common sense, as mean as it may be – that’s business. As for this “ho ho now I know where my gas money’s going!” bullshit, just stop talking… What would you rather have them do with oil money?

  28. robbynaish71 August 26, 2008 at 8:27 am

    i hope we will have a town like this
    also in Italy

  29. robbynaish71 August 26, 2008 at 8:23 am


  30. supersoyboy August 26, 2008 at 3:27 am

    I bet dubai planners are really good at sim city.

    as for the comment about gas dollars, you’ll find that Dubai’s primary income doesnt come from fuel exports.

  31. yrag1 August 26, 2008 at 2:18 am

    I\’m at a bit of a loss here. According to Wikipedia, Dubai (the entire Emirate) only has a total population of 2,262,000.42.3% Indian (wow!), 17% Emirati, 13.3% Pakistani, 7.5% Bangladeshi, 9.1% Arab, 10.8% Others. So essentially building the one Ziggurat would house about half the entire population. If you factor all the other building projects presently being done including the Burj Dubai and for the entire new \’Downtown Dubai\’, (US$20 billion), unless the government is going to just import people wholesale on supertankers it\’s hard for me to see how Dubai isn\’t headed for the greatest real estate glut in human history. (At least short term)

  32. Wowbagger August 25, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Are you all crazy? This is exactly the kind of high population density infrastructure we need to live in.

  33. dalmada August 25, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Could this be the beggining of the construction of Arcologies?… Coooool!!!!

    Yeah, it’ll be quite different from our experience to live in one of those things, but what we get in exchange is a green, clean planet… You could actually go outside and instead of mad max, you will get wild kingdom.

  34. alainb August 25, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Im glad to know where my gas dollars are going.

  35. EnergyEinstein August 25, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I do feel what clairseach is saying. Sadly as apart of innovation comes such things. Large amounts of money and the cheapest way to do things possible is how innovation comes about, and must come about to be tested. What other country would try such things? Dubai’s purpose is to impress and draw attention and professionals and money to the region. I do feel sorry it is at the cost of people’s rights, it is a terrible thing, and shouldn’t be condoned, but as long as there is a voice against such treatment, it eventually will not exist once humans learn to be stable and self-sustainable without destroying the environment further.

  36. eryn August 25, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    9/11 anyone?

    i can’t see any structure housing 1 million ppl.. just not feasible.

  37. clairseach August 25, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Just awful. I don’t think it’s the rich who will live in such dreadful “hyperstructures” but the indentured “guest workers” with no rights. No doubt they’ll be consuming recycled urine, feces, and corpses while being kept out of sight and out of mind.

  38. Avarana August 25, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Grisham, the strange greenery is money.

  39. Grisham August 25, 2008 at 9:49 am

    If its in Dubai, what’s with the green all around it?

  40. PaTrond August 25, 2008 at 9:45 am

    The infrastructure still don’t look good.. I would like to see some green trasport methods, like maglev-trains out of that huge pice of a living-machine.
    But atleast: They’re thinking about the environment and there is still people who lives in thighter spaces than that(so maybe this would have been a good idea for some countries) =)

    Looks like that would have been too crowded for me, well.. I’m used to live in Norway though.

  41. JohnPaul August 25, 2008 at 8:22 am

    What an elitist venture! Green living is becoming a thing for the rich while the poor lose out as usual. Also, not a one off structure? I hope we won\’t see the return of Le Corbusier\’s Radiant City and the \’machine for living in\’ idea in the name of green architecture.

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