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What does a new, masterplanned city look like in 2018?

The idea of building a brand new, masterplanned city has had a long, storied, history across the globe. From perhaps the most famous theory, Ebenezer Howard’s idea of the Garden City, to built examples like Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh to Niemeyer’s Brasilia, designing a from-scratch city has been tried in many ways with varying degrees of success....

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January 26, 2018
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The idea of building a brand new, masterplanned city has had a long, storied, history across the globe. From perhaps the most famous theory, Ebenezer Howard’s idea of the Garden City, to built examples like Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh to Niemeyer’s Brasilia, designing a from-scratch city has been tried in many ways with varying degrees of success. But what does it mean to build one in the 21st century? In a region of the world where it has been attempted many times in recent years, the Persian Gulf, how can you succeed at both the master planning and then construction and actualization of a new city?

The Sultanate of Oman is currently trying to figure out how to do exactly that. An article on CityLab describes the new city:

“Madinat Al-Irfan will be located to the west of Muscat, Oman’s capital, near the international airport. The government has already built a convention center and a few hotels on the 1,500-acre site. Over the next 30 years it plans to add a central business district, a university, government buildings, souks, mosques, and residential neighborhoods, with the aim of hosting a population of 280,000.”
More than just a masterplanned city, this is a significant shift away from the bold, ambitious, and extravagant hubs of the region, like Dubai and Bahrain. At it’s heart, the goal of the project is to create a walkable, sustainable urban place. According to the Sultanate’s development team,
“With a Wadi Park as it’s spine, Irfan will be a city with public space as its heart. Madinat Al Irfan will become an exemplar both locally and regionally, providing a model for urban development. Importantly, Madinat Al Irfan will also become a catalyst for change in Oman; setting new benchmarks in terms of sustainability and urban design, providing public transport while creating a magnet for business, a centre for tourism and a great place to live and work.”

Will the urbanist underpinnings of Madinat Al-Irfan allow it to succeed where other new cities have failed to deliver? Are density, walkability, and a good transit system more likely to create a sustainable city then setting out to build “the world’s most sustainable eco-city”, like they did in nearby Masdar, a city that has yet to live up to it’s lofty goals? Is “[getting] the ordinary right”, as architects Allies and Morrison describe as their primary goal for the city, the best way to have the project succeed? Only time will tell, but Madinat Al-Irfan is certainly a place to watch,

Learn more about the masterplan under development on the official website for Madinat Al-Irfan.

 

Photo by Anfal Shamsudeen on Unsplash