It’s been a decade since the ambitious plan for a zero-carbon city rising from the sands outside Abu Dhabi was announced. How times have changed. Masdar is far from completion, starchitects Foster + Partners are no longer leading the project, and there are worries that the project could be (is?) the world’s first “green ghost town“. The planning team now leading the project wants to prevent that from happening. Last week they presented their plan for phase 2 of the project. Well aware of the economic realities of the project, they’ve pulled back from the zero carbon goal and conceded that the city cannot be car-free. They haven’t given up on green goals however. In a positive move, the plan moves away from technology-oriented solutions, and adopts some contextually sensitive strategies that are well tested in the Middle East. But phase 2 of the plan isn’t without its challenges. The plan heralds a pedestrian friendly city, yet renderings include many palm trees – which provide little shade and require a great deal of water, for instance. However, the more modest plan could mean that Masdar becomes a real town, rather than just a cautionary tale of context-blind technological over-reliance.
*Image by CBT Architects