Masdar City explores sustainable technologies and the planning principles of traditional Arab settlements to create a desert community that aims to be carbon neutral and zero waste. The 640-hectare project is a key component of the Masdar Initiative, established by the government of Abu Dhabi to advance the development and commercialisation of renewable energy and clean-technology solutions.
A mixed-use, low-rise, high-density development, Masdar City includes the Masdar Institute and the headquarters for the International Renewable Energy Agency. The Institute is the first phase of the project to be completed and is a graduate-level research-driven university with a focus on advanced energy and sustainable technologies. Embodying the principles of the wider development, the Masdar Institute campus has been built to consume around half the amount of electricity and water as equivalent buildings, with all power generated on site.
Strategically located for Abu Dhabi’s transport infrastructure, Masdar will be linked to neighbouring communities and the international airport by existing road and rail routes. The city itself will be the first modern community in the world to operate without fossil fuelled vehicles at street level. With a maximum distance of 200 metres to the nearest rapid transport links and amenities, the city is designed to encourage walking, while its shaded streets and courts offer an attractive pedestrian environment, sheltered from climatic extremes. The surrounding land contains photovoltaic farms, research fields and plantations, allowing the community to be entirely energy self-sufficient.
The development is divided into two sectors, bridged by a linear park, and is being built in phases, starting with the larger sector containing the Masdar Institute. The masterplan is designed to be highly flexible, to allow it to incorporate emergent technologies and to respond to lessons learnt during the implementation of the initial phases. Expansion has been anticipated from the outset, allowing for urban growth while avoiding the problem of sprawl that besets so many cities.
The city is driven by research and aims to become a centre for the advancement of new ideas for energy production, attracting the highest levels of expertise. Knowledge gained here has already aided the development of Abu Dhabi’s ‘Estidama’ rating system for sustainable building. A range of pilot projects are underway, exploring alternative forms of transport, cooling devices, such as wind towers, and new potential sources of power, including solar thermal cooling. It has already been possible to apply some of the region’s wealth of expertise in mining to conduct further analysis into the use of bore holes for geothermal heating.
Masdar-Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company
Mubadala Development Company
Business Plan: Ernst and Young
Architect – Urban Design: Foster + Partners
Renewable Energy: E.T.A.
Climate Engineering: Transsolar
Sustainability-Infrastructure: WSP Energy
HVAC Engineer: WSP
Quantity Surveyor: Cyril Sweet Limited
Landscape consultant: Gustfason Porter
Site area 600 Hectare
1st Square: City square 225 Hectare
2nd Square: CSP/PV - City later 56 Hectare
Supporting area 15 Hectare
Total 296 Hectare
Occupation of Site 55%
Building Area 1.4 Million sqm
1st Square: City square 4.8 Million sqm
2nd Square: Optional! 1.2 Million sqm
Total optional 6.0 Million sqm
Density per Floor space 2.1 m2 Floor area / m2 Ground area
Total Floor area 6 Million sqm
Special Economic Zone (SEZ) 19%
Civic and Culture 3%
Service and transport areas 25%
Showcase and Testing 10%
Population on site (incl. Families) 30.665
Commuting workers 36.166
Total living and working population 66.821