This past February, the DubaiChamber of Commerce authorized the development of a “free zone” dubbed Food City. GCLA, a green landscape architect firm, proposed a master plan for the city sector to turn it into an incredible off-the-grid, self-sufficient metropolis. GCLA’s future-forward urban quarter incorporates an extensive list of sustainable urban planning ideas, including vertically stacked landscape surfaces, artificial roof landscapes, renewable energy systems, aquatic farms, and thermal conditioning.

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GCLA has described their proposal for Food City as the “the marriage of landscapes and urbanism“. Their project integrates a variety of proposals to decrease overall energy use — concentrated solar collectors, towers covered in thin-film photovoltaic cells, piezoelectric pads in pedestrian areas, and methane harvesting through sewage percolation tanks.

GCLA also proposes water conservation measures critical to off-the-grid survival in water-starved Dubai, like atmospheric water harvesting, solar desalination through concentrated solar collectors, grey water recycling, and application of hydroponic sand to minimize water loss. Essentially, GCLA’s vision is an amalgamation of nearly every urban sustainability initiative in the past few years. It’s certainly utopian, but it may ultimately prove necessary.