The World’s First Solar City

An enviro-utopia may be on its way. The city of Abu Dhabi, the World Wildlife Federation, and English architects Foster + Partners have recently revealed plans for a 3.5-mile car-free walled city near Abu Dhabi. The planned Masdar City, which means “the source” in Arabic, will be the home to some 47,500 residents.

The WWF and the city of Abu Dhabi released ten sustainability concepts including sustainable transport, local food, culture and heritage, and fair trade. The WWF will monitor Masdar City’s eco-performance.

According to Treehugger, Masdar City is to be multi-level, with a light rail on one level moving people in and out of the city with pedestrians at ground level. In addition to solar power, wind turbines and waste-to-energy plants will be employed to generate power.

Masdar City’s electricity will be generated by photovoltaic panels, while cooling will be provided via concentrated solar power, according to a press release on The Masdar Initiative website. Water will be provided through a solar-powered desalination plant. Landscaping within the city and crops grown outside the city will be irrigated with grey water and treated waste water produced by the city’s water treatment plant.

Buildings are not to be taller than five stories and streets no wider than ten feet. Rooftops will be covered with solar generators and the walls around the city will diminish the desert heat and noise from airplanes at nearby Abu Dhabi International airport.

All this comes with a hefty price tag: $15 billion in funding from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. IT friend Andrew Revkin recently reported on Masdar City in the New York Times, and posed an interesting question on his Dot Earth blog. With Dubai’s reputation as a hub for architectural ostentation – is this “green” development yet another theme, akin to building islands shaped like palm trees, or buildings shaped like boats? And if we assume their motives are pure (as they say), then why couldn’t we see more of these kinds of solar cities cropping up in U.S. as well?

What do you make of Masdar City? Would you want to live there?

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Image: Building magazine

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