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Masdar (مصدر) The City of the Future

January 26, 2011

Abu Dhabi has given us a vision of what the city of the future might look like. Given huge financial resources, in this case nearly $20 billion (US) and the political will to actually do some visonary planning, we now may see what a model sustainable city could look like if you could build it from scratch.

The goals for Masdar are not unambitious. It will be home to 45,000 to 50,000 people and 1,500 businesses, primarily commercial and manufacturing facilities specialising in environmentally friendly products, and more than 60,000 workers are expected to commute to the city daily.Masdar is designed to rely totally on renewable energy (primarily solar), have no cars, produce zero waste, and a net carbon footprint of…zero. That’s quite a roster considering that it also desires to maintain the world’s highest standard of living.

Lead architects, Foster + Parners (England) envison a comprehesive master plan that is reminiscent of the 20th century effort, Brasilia. The world is much different today than when the last “perfect” city was envisioned, and modern sustainabity strategies and alternative energy technologies offer a more eco-friendly, long-term solution. With the rise of these disciplines as economic drivers, the developers of Mazdar are planning to form a knowledge industry around them.

A word-class university and research facities were always part of the original concept. Masdar City will be the latest of a small number of highly planned, specialized, research and technology-intensive municipalities that incorporate a living environment, similar to Novosibirsk, Russia or Tsukuba Science City, Japan.

Abu Dhabi's city of future, Masdar, is now under construction.

Masdar will employ a variety of renewable power resources. Among the first construction projects will be a 40 to 60 megawatt solar power plant, built by the German firm Conergy, which will supply power for all other construction activity. This will later be followed by a larger facility, and additional photovoltaic modules will be placed on rooftops to provide supplemental solar energy totalling 130 megawatts. Wind farms will be established outside the city’s perimeter capable of producing up to 20 megawatts, and the city intends to utilise geothermal power as well. In addition, Masdar plans to host the world’s largest hydrogen power plant.

Driverless electric cars interface with rail mass transit, all below ground, leaving the surface for pedestrians only.

Water management has been planned in an environmentally sound manner as well. A solar-powered desalination plant will be used to provide the city’s water needs, which is stated to be 60 percent lower than similarly sized communities. Approximately 80 percent of the water used will be recycled and waste water will be reused “as many times as possible,” with this greywater being used for crop irrigation and other purposes.

The city will also attempt to reduce waste to zero. Biological waste will be used to create nutrient-rich soil and fertiliser, and some may also be utilised through waste incineration as an additional power source. Industrial waste, such as plastics and metals, will be recycled or re-purposed for other uses.

Take a tour of Masdar

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