An Engineering Marvel – The Itaipu Dam in Brazil

Sometimes, when countries come together to create something bigger, for a larger cause, architectural marvels are born. One such example is the Itaipu Dam that was built over the Paraná River between Brazil and Paraguay in South America that was built to serve many generations to come. Let’s take a closer look…


In the 1960’s, the governments of Brazil and Paraguay respectively saw a way of working together on a project that used one of their shared resources to support the expanding electrical needs of their countries. This resource was the Paraná River, the seventh largest in the world, which formed a natural border between the two nations. The project was a massive dam that would harness the river’s energy and turn it into electrical power.

Thus, on July 22, 1966, the Brazilian and Paraguayan Ministers of Foreign Affairs signed a document agreeing to explore the possibility of building a dam and an associated hydroelectric plant. It wasn’t until February 1971, however, that the work actually started. Once construction was underway, there were still legal considerations to be handled. In particular, the country of Argentina, only a few miles south of the dam site, was concerned that in times of conflict, the dam could be used as a weapon to cause large-scale destruction. To quell these concerns, the three nations entered into a mutual agreement in October of 1979 on the amount of water that could be released at any time from the dam.

Today, the Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam is the largest operational hydroelectric energy producer in the world, with an installed generation capacity of 14 giga watts. The plant is operated by Itaipu Binacional and located on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. Energy generated by Itaipu helps meet demands of the two countries. About 90% of the energy generated by the plant is used by Brazil.

Construction of the dam began in February 1971 and cost a magnanimous sum of $19.6 bn. The first unit began generating power in May 1984. Later that year, the second generating unit started operating. And till 2009, Itaipu had 20 generating units, each with a capacity of 700MW.

Itaipu generated 94.68 billion kWh of energy back in 2008, sufficient to meet worldwide power consumption for two days. It is equal to the energy consumed by Paraguay for 11 years and by Argentina for one year. This energy was used to supply 87% of the electricity consumed in Paraguay and 19% as demanded by the Brazilian interconnected system.

But building this powerhouse of a dam was no easy task. During the planning stages, the engineers had to decide what type of dam was needed and how big it should be. A simple dam placed at the chosen spot on the river would have blocked it, but only would have created a lake 150 feet deep, not enough to produce all the power that was wanted. Instead, it was decided to make Itaipu not just a single dam but a series of dams 7.2 km long and 738 feet high. This would permit the creation of an immense lake that would allow the Itaipu to produce more hydroelectricity than any other dam in the world.

The first job the construction crew had to do was to divert the flow of the river around the construction site so that it was dry enough to start building. As the Paraná is one of the largest rivers in the world, this project in itself was a challenge. Over 50 million tons of rock and earth were removed to create a bypass channel for water that was 490 feet wide, 300 feet deep and 1.3 miles long. In addition, temporary cofferdams were placed in the river’s old path to keep water out of the construction zone. This river diversion was the largest ever attempted and took three years to complete. On October 1978, the concrete blocks were blasted out of the way to open the new channel and let the water pour through.

The construction of the dam itself required 40,000 workers, mostly recruited from Brazil. To house them, a whole new community was built including hospitals, schools, parks and churches. Sadly, 149 of these employees were killed during the construction project.


More than 12.3 million cubic meters of concrete were poured to create the dam. Some sections of concrete were so large that if allowed to set naturally in the hot sun they would not have dried properly, causing cracks and weak spots.

More than 12.3 million cubic meters of concrete were poured to create the dam. Some sections of concrete were so large that if allowed to set naturally in the hot sun they would not have dried properly, causing cracks and weak spots. To avoid this, large-scale refrigeration plants equivalent to almost 50,000 domestic deep freezers were used to cool the concrete while it hardened. In addition, enough iron and steel were used during the construction to build 380 copies of the Eiffel Tower. More than 8.5 times the rock and soil were moved in the building of the dam than was needed to cut the channel tunnel between England and France.

The construction also used 15 times more concrete than the “Chunnel.”

On October 13, 1982, the dam was completed to the point where the diversion channel could be closed and the lake filled. On May 5, 1984, the first of the power-generating units was completed and brought on-line to officially open the dam. The rest of the units were installed over the next seven years, slowly increasing the capacity of the dam each year.


Waiting to Exhale – The Mall of the World in Dubai

The tallest building, the most extravagant lifestyles and malls large enough to satiate the world’s craziest shopaholics – Dubai is in competition with itself in setting new benchmarks in the world of shopping…



From a dessert city to a thriving, flourishing megapolis, Dubai’s phenomenal growth story is well known all over the world. What started as a preferred travel destination in the Middle East, soon became the world’s favourite shopping destination and now, realty center with the tallest, most luxurious buildings. Dubai is anyone’s shopping fantasy– boasting of the best of brands, retailers, traditional souks, endless outlets for duty free goods, and designer malls from heaven. And then there’s the fact that Dubai seems to be very keen on maintaining this status and thus, keeps coming up with various people-friendly promotions and festivals to attract tourists so that ensure they have a shopping experience unlike any they’ve had before.

When it comes to shopping malls, Dubai breaks many boundaries in terms of size and style. From Dubai Mall, which is the largest shopping mall in the world and houses a private, indoor ice rink, an aquarium where you can dive-in with sharks, and an amusement centre, complete with daring rides, to the Mall of the Emirates, home to the world’s largest indoor ski slope – Dubai’s malls offer so much more than just a shopping experience.
But all this is set to change. There’s a new mall coming up in Dubai.


And it is no ordinary mall. Dubai’s Mall of the World will be a colossal domed structure nine times bigger than the Mall of America. When it opens in 2029, it will be temperature-controlled, feature thousands of hotel rooms and have its own transit line. Mall of the World is a project to build the largest shopping center of its kind in the world, which envisions a fully air-conditioned city, comprising more than 48 million square feet of retail space.

Mall of the World was originally announced in November 2012 and was planned to be the largest shopping mall in the world, to be located in Mohammed bin Rashid City, a mixed-use development in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In August 2016, Dubai Holding announced Mall of the World would be relocated to Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Road. The original plan includes eight million square feet of shopping areas, the largest indoor game park in the world with a glass dome that can be opened during the winter time, and areas for theaters, cultural events, medical tourism, and about 20,000 hotel rooms. The mall is expected to be able to receive 180 million visitors annually. That’s more people visiting a mall than living in Russia.

Mall of the World will also introduce an innovative concept of an integrated pedestrian city connected to the mall and offering a wide range of leisure, retail, cultural, wellness, recreation and hospitality options under the same roof.

Tourists will be able to enjoy a weeklong stay without the need to leave the city or use a car.

The 7 km long promenade connecting all facilities will be covered during the summer and open during the winter, ensuring pleasant temperatures throughout the year.

The project boasts of over 100 hotels and serviced apartments buildings, including 20,000 hotel rooms. It will include designated parking areas with a capacity to host up to 50,000 cars on the ground level.

Another component of Mall of the World is the Wellness District, which will cover a total area of 3 million sq. ft. dedicated to providing wellness and rejuvenation services. It will offer a holistic experience to medical tourists and their families, ensuring access to quality healthcare, specialized surgical procedures and cosmetic treatments, wellness facilities and high-end hospitality options.

It’s been over six years since the inception of the project and with a few more years to completion, work is progressing on track and is currently in the detailed design stage. The mega project, which was launched in 2014 by state-owned Dubai Holding, is a 15-year development. The funding for the project, estimated to cost a whopping 80bn Dirhams, will be distributed across the entire time span. Mall of the World will be divided into four phases with the first phase slated for completion before Expo 2020. Phase one will comprise at least 25 per cent of the entire project with construction scheduled to begin next year.


The History of Budapest’s Famed Tram Transport

Budapest, the famed Hungarian city is well-known for world-famous opera houses, relaxing baths, local brews, its imposing Parliament Building and of course, the historical Chain Bridge. But what really gets the people of Budapest moving, is the impeccable punctuality of the city’s tram network. It’s ages old, still functional and very fascinating. So sit back and buckle up for one of the most interesting history lessons in the world of trams…



To talk about the tram network of Budapest, we have to go back some 120 years. And Budapest from that long ago was very different from the Budapest that we see now. Back then, from the tram windows, the residents would have seen the Great Boulevard under construction, the House of Parliament growing out of the earth on the right side bank of the River Danube, new bridges spanning over the River to connect Buda and Pest or the birth of the first underground railway of the continent. There were times when trams were kept count of as an extremely modern means of transportation, and a very long time ago, carts pulled by horses were the coolest vehicles in Budapest on their cobbled streets.

Budapest came into existence in 1873 with the amalgamation of Buda, Pest and Óbuda after the Austro-Hungarian Agreement of Compromise. By the end of the 19th

century, Budapest became Europe’s youngest metropolis. The number of its residences tripled, the number of its buildings doubled. During the years of the amalgamation, the construction of the Margaret Bridge, the second bridge over the Danube, had already started making impressive progress.

With the merger of Buda and Pest, Budapest Public Iron Road Company was born and they launched a horse tramway service on the bridge a year later. In 1866, the streets of Pest were one of the first in the world to establish horse tramway traffic. By 1885, a network of as many as 15 horse tramway lines was operated.
Different flags on the carriages distinguished the different lines. As time passed, the omnibuses and horse tramways were not enough in satisfying the ever-increasing travel demands in the quickly growing capital.


The electric tramcars manufactured by Siemens created a great sensation. Due to their success, another public tramway system was ordered and built in May 1882 near Berlin. The great global electrification wave began only in the 1890s, so it you won’t be wrong in concluding that the Budapest tramway led this revolution.

That’s when the city decided to high engineers to set up the construction of a public railroad with carriages of electric traction in the city. The city issued permission for the establishment of a test-line and in September 1887, the Ministry of Commerce and Transport began the licensing process. As the Municipal Council of Public Projects did not approve the construction of overhead catenaries in the inner city, Siemens developed a conduit system for them.

It was hardly seven years or so since the first public electric tramway line had been inaugurated in May 1881 at the Gross-Lichterfelde, near Berlin. The electric tramcars manufactured by Siemens created a great sensation. Due to their success, another public tramway system was ordered and built in May 1882 near Berlin. The great global electrification wave began only in the 1890s, so it you won’t be wrong in concluding that the Budapest tramway led this revolution.

And on 1st October 1887, the Ministry issued the permission for the 1 km long tram test-line between Nyugati Railway Station and Király Street. By the end of the following month, it had already been put into operation. On the next Monday, at around 2:30 in the afternoon, the first tram rolled out on to the street amongst great cheer and excitement of the people.

A temporary tram depot was built in front of the Nyugati Railway Station. On the 1000 mm gauge track, two motor carriages and a tow-car carried the passengers. The speed limit was set to 10 km/hour, but Andrássy Street had to be crossed at even a lower speed. And they took this really low speed limit very seriously.

A mounted policeman was posted there to watch if this speed limit was kept. After dark, like most vehicles, a white lamp had to be lit at the front of the train and a red lamp at the rear.

In 1888 Mór Balázs, Lindheim & Partner and Siemens et Halske founded Budapesti Városi Vasút, BVV or better known as Budapest City Rail Road Co. everywhere else. The first normal gauge line of Budapest which was 1435 mm in width was put in operation on the route of Egyetem Square – Stáció Street – Köztemető Street. In the same year they handed over a line in Podmaniczky Street, too. And after its successful execution, BVV demolished the track of the test-railway on the Great Boulevard and built a normal gauge track on its place. In the following year the Company under the name of Budapesti Villamos Városi Vasút Rt. i.e. BVVV (Budapest Electric City Railway Ltd.) continued its activity. This Company put the first steam-propelled public railway in operation in 1891 on the route of Rókus Hospital – Salgótarjáni Street – Újköztemető.

This was the birth of the Budapest tramway. At the beginning of the 20th Century, there were as many as seven tramway companies in the streets of Budapest. They proved to bring about healthy competition in terms of prices and service that in turn, helped the passengers. In the last years of World War I, there were 1072 electric railroad vehicles in operation in Budapest and on its outskirts. This rolling stock carried more than 382 million passengers in 1918.

In the era between the two world wars a unified number system on the vehicles was introduced. As the increasing passenger traffic created a growing demand, even in the first years a number of vehicles gone obsolete were modernized and new vehicles were purchased. In the 1930s, development of the maintenance plants, depots and traffic operation plants took place together with the modernization of the traffic operation technology and the network, as well. The economic crisis, the financial state of the country then World War II put off the realization of the great conceptions. During the siege of Budapest – when the Soviet army and the German Wermacht were fighting a desperate battle in the streets of Budapest – the rolling stock, the track network and the facilities suffered enormous damages. 84 per cent of the overhead line network was destroyed. In 1962 new articulated test vehicles were developed from UV types 3235 and 3258. Based on a programme in the 1950s, the old wooden frames of the tramcars were changed to steel frames.

During the street fights of the revolution of 1956, more than two thirds of the overhead lines were destroyed, 109 tramcars were damaged or became completely useless. Ten years after the end of World War II, the streets and transport of Budapest were still in a deplorable state.

Today BKV Ltd. is operating in the form of a privately held corporation. The rolling stock of the tram mode consists of 120 Ganz type, articulated cars, 1 Hungaroplan type, 40 Combinos, 76 TW 6000 Hannover tramcars, 240+80 i.e. 320 vehicles of Tatra T5C5 and T5C5K types are in operation in passenger transport on 24 routes.

If you were to ever visit, you’d still see these bright yellow trams passing through the city. And if you are a curious cat, you can head to one of their many museums to take a look at all the types of trams that lined the city in the yesteryears.

Vienna – what makes it the most liveable city in the world?

Vienna, the city of music, is turning out to be the favourite city to live in for not just music composers but for everyone around the world. Today, let’s find out what puts it first in the Mercer’s Quality of Life survey.


Each year, the international consulting firm Mercer carries out a study in order to assess the quality of life in 231 cities around the world. The results of the study in 2018 also gave Vienna top marks and made the Austrian federal capital the most liveable city in the world for the ninth time in a row.

The survey is quite extensive and makes critical comparisons and observations. The political, social and economic climate, medical care, education, and infrastructural conditions such as public transportation, power and water supply all account for this survey. It also takes into consideration recreational spots in and around the city such as restaurants, theaters, cinemas, sports facilities, and shopping for all sorts of things from daily bread to luxury cars, as well as environmental conditions – from green spaces in the city to quality of air its people breathe.

The city of Vienna lets humans and nature co-exist hand in hand. In fact 50% of the city comprises of green areas. And we’re not talking only parklands and gardens here. There are, of course, plenty of parks and gardens all over Vienna, easily accessible with public transport, by bike, or even on foot. The inner city has many green areas, among them Burggarten or Volksgarten, which are perfect for a quick break from sightseeing and for holding spontaneous picnics. But, within Vienna’s city limits, you’ll also find many forested areas. Just a short trip on the tram can take you to places that will make you feel like you’re in the countryside.

Schlosspark Pötzleinsdorf in the district Währing, for example, is great for extensive walks and has an impressive playground for kids, as well as a modern animal enclosure with sheep and goats in it. At the Steinhofgründe in the Penzing area of Vienna you’ll always find a great spot for a picnic with your kids or friends amidst a forest playground. And only a train ride away, in Southern Vienna, is the Donau-Auen National Park. Most of the park belongs to Lower Austria, but a section is still in Vienna. The Donau-Auen National Park is one of the last wetland landscapes in Europe and it offers plenty of hiking and nature trails, guided tours, boat trips, and natural swimming locations. The cityscape is also shaped by vineyards, which can best be discovered on numerous hiking trails. Vienna’s vineyards are prized for their internationally acclaimed wine. No trip to the capital would be complete

without a trip to a wine tavern where you can sit and leave your cares behind you while enjoying a drop of fine wine or grape juice, if you’re a teetotaler.Viennese cafés have an extremely long and distinguished history that dates back centuries, and the caffeine addictions of some famous historical patrons of the oldest are something of a local legend. These coffee houses are unique to Vienna and many cities have unsuccessfully sought to copy them. Some people consider cafés as their extended living room where nobody will be bothered if they spend hours reading a newspaper while enjoying their coffee.

Viennese cafés claim to have invented the process of filtering coffee from booty captured after the second Turkish siege in 1683. Viennese cafés claim that when the invading Turks left Vienna, they abandoned hundreds of sacks of coffee beans. The Polish King John III Sobieski, the commander of the anti-Turkish coalition of Poles, Germans, and Austrians, gave Franz George Kolschitzky some of this coffee as a reward for providing information that allowed him to defeat the Turks. Kolschitzky then opened Vienna’s first coffee shop. Julius Meinl set up a modern roasting plant in the same premises where the coffee sacks were found, in 1891. This makes even a simple café you might cross on the street, historical.

Speaking of history, anywhere around the world you are given a list of must visit historical sites. But well in Vienna almost everything and every place has some historical significance. There’s a Roman excavation in the inner city itself, at Michaelerplatz. Vienna also has plenty of cultural sights to offer including the collections at the Hofburg, the Ring Road with its imposing buildings, St. Stephens Cathedral, countless museums, and much more.

Fondly called the world’s music capital, Vienna or Wein has had more famous composers living here than in any other city. In Vienna, music is woven into the very fabric of the city.

Waltzes and operettas have their home here, and so do musicals that have conquered international audiences. On opera nights, the show is projected on a video wall outside the theatre for everyone to enjoy.

Across Europe and also in the opinion of the people that have visited the city, Vienna is well known for its excellent urban infrastructure.

Getting from A to B is fast and easy thanks to a network of underground trains called “U-Bahn”, buses, and tramways. To get out of town for a bit, one simply hops on a bus or a train. Tickets for the Vienna public transport system remain affordable for everyone. And if you’re staying around longer, daily, weekend, or weekly transport cards are cheap and convenient. This allows you to really discover Vienna’s network of charming alleyways and small side streets.

By 2020, over EUR 1.3 billion will be invested in infrastructure projects to ensure key services like drinking water supply, waste water management and energy provision keep pace with the growth rate projected for the Austrian capital city.

Since 1873 Vienna’s potable water has been supplied by 30 mountain springs. The gradient is also used to generate electricity, making Viennese spring water a healthy and eco-friendly pleasure. There are also 700 drinking water fountains in Vienna where parched visitors can quench their thirst.

For many years now, Vienna has coordinated the rehabilitation of the city’s vast water supply network, which comprises 3,000 kilometers of water pipes. Based on an internationally recognised six-pillar model, approximately 30 km of pipes are renewed or repaired every year. And that means total investments in Vienna’s water supply system add up to almost EUR 50 million per year.

Vienna is a city that charms you and convinces you to stay longer the moment you step into the city. And with heavy investments in improving the sewage treatment, rainwater management and electricity supply, it is getting ready for the future well before time. Vienna is focusing its energies and resources on developing sustainable energy. The city also has a modern biogas plant that produces biological methane from 22,000 tons of kitchen waste per year.

Whether it is for a short holiday or to settle down or just to stay long enough to soak in the vibe of the city, there’s just so much to do. There’s a seemingly never-ending wealth of places to visit and things to do throughout the year. It is arguably the richest city in terms of its culture and music. And with a very pleasing mix of cool cafés, bars, art galleries and markets, it is no doubt that it is the most liveable and lovable city in the world.


Songdo – South Korea’s New Smart City Is Worth Emulating

The face of modern day business is fast changing. It’s fast, agile and ubiquitously smart. Songdo, South Korea’s Smart City, is setting new benchmarks in how the future of business looks like…



ONGDO, meaning Pine City or Pine Islands, is nothing like what its name suggests. Songdo International Business District is a sustainable smart city set to change the way business is done. It is built from scratch on 600 hectares of reclaimed land from the Yellow Sea, along Incheon’s waterfront. It is 65 kilometers southwest of Seoul, South Korea and is connected to Incheon International Airport by a 12.3-kilometre reinforced concrete highway bridge, called Incheon Bridge. Along with Yeongjong and Cheongna, Songdo is part of the Incheon Free Economic Zone.
Not many know but music videos for the songs “Gangnam Style” and “Right Now”, by Korean pop star Psy were shot in Songdo International Business District.
Its primary goal is to push boundaries in the way cities dealt with technology, environment, business and education. Built within 40 kilometers of Seoul, it is billed as the antithesis of the suffocating, over-populated capital.
The Songdo International Business District is going to be the home to the much-awaited Northeast Asia Trade Tower and the Incheon Tower. The city is designed in a way that one is never far from a school, hospital and cultural amenities. Among residential and office buildings, replicas of architectural hallmarks, including New York City’s Central Park and Venice’s waterways, will also be built. This project was estimated to take about 10 years and a whopping $40 billion to finish. This makes it one of the most expensive development projects ever undertaken in the history of mankind. The New York City architecture firm of Kohn Pedersen Fox designed the city’s plan, with developer Gale International serving as the majority partner in the project. When completed by 2020, the district will span 100 million square feet.
But on the plus side, when residents of the International Business District (IBD) in Songdo, South Korea go to work, pick up their kids from school, or shop for groceries, they don’t have to take their cars out.

In fact, Songdo aims to eliminate the need of a private car. The business district has been designed to prioritize mass transit, like buses, subways, and bikes, instead of road traffic. On paper, Songdo boasts an impressive public transportation system, built in anticipation of that car-free free future. The subway here connects to both Incheon’s existing system and Seoul’s intricate rail network.
Buses link hubs like Triple Street to neighborhoods and university campuses. Other bus routes ferry commuters directly from

Songdo to trendy Seoul neighborhoods like Hongdae and Gangnam.
To promote walkability, developers placed venues like shopping malls and convention centers within a 15-minute walk from Central Park and are building out an extensive biking infrastructure; they also promise a bus or subway stop within 12 minutes of every neighborhood.
Though the city is not yet complete, Songdo IBD is home to 106 LEED certified buildings that fall under 12 projects, or 22 million sq. ft. of LEED-certified space.


This number includes several ‘firsts’ for LEED in Korea and Asia, including the first LEED-certified hotel in Korea – Yhe Sheraton Incheon, the first certified residential tower in Korea, Central Park 1, and the first certified convention hall in Asia, Convensia. The 50,000 sq. ft. clubhouse for the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea which hosted the Presidents Cup in 2015 is also certified. Songdo IBD alone represents 40% of all LEED-certified space in South Korea.
And since the city is being designed from scratch, it allows a lot of new and futuristic technologies to be implemented right from the start. Songdo has been designed with sensors to monitor temperature, energy use and traffic flow. These sensors can – in theory – alert you, personally, when your bus is due. Or let the local authority know about any problems. Computers are built into the buildings and streets. So its people can video conference with neighbours, or even attend classes remotely.
Many of these innovations are designed with the environment in mind. There are charging stations for electric cars, monitored bike paths and a water-recycling system that prevents clean drinking water being used to flush office toilets. But what really takes the cake is the waste disposal system. First thing you’d notice is the lack of garbage cans dotted around blocks of flats and garbage trucks crowding the streets. Instead, all household waste is sucked directly from individual kitchens through a vast underground network of tunnels, to waste processing centers, where it’s automatically sorted, deodorized and treated to be kinder to the environment. Somewhere in the future, some of this household waste will be used to produce renewable energy, but like many of Songdo’s technological innovations, it isn’t fully operational yet. And that’s because the city is currently less than half full. Less than 20% of the commercial office spaces are occupied, and the streets, cafes and shopping centers still feel largely empty. Despite being next to South Korea’s main international airport, transport links into the capital itself are rudimentary, and the incentives for companies moving to a new smart city don’t always outweigh the costs.
Songdo is nonetheless attracting families and young couples away from Seoul, though not necessarily for the futuristic technology or commercial district. The city has been planned around a central park, and designed so that every resident can walk to work in the business district. Families that have moved here have done so mostly for the better standard of living and for the shorter commutes to work and other places.
But while the residential flats are being occupied, Songdo hasn’t really attracted large business houses and companies. But this is one of the challenges of building a city from scratch. Business and economic growth tends to go hand in hand with the city’s population and its people.

The completion date for the city keeps being pushed back. It was meant to be fully functional by 2015, then 2018, now it’s 2022. Despite the delays in reaching the project’s earlier population benchmarks, the developers are thinking long term. Their goal is to create a resilient city, one that can last for centuries to come. And, well, that can’t be rushed. The pace of Songdo’s emergence might look slow if one were to compare it to other industrially advanced cities in world.
The developers say that a project of this scale and vision would take its time. A paced out and strategized development plan is much better than breakneck development speed that is found in other parts of Korea and Asia.


Masdar City, UAE

A city with state-of-the-art infrastructure, British design and a motto that goes – Live-Work-Play, Masdar City in the UAE is the gold standard of planned cities


In 2008, the Government of Abu Dhabi laid the foundation to a dream city; one that is sustainable and has zero waste and carbon emissions. Introducing Masdar City, a city that combines state-of-the-art technologies with the planning principles of traditional Arab settlements to create a desert community that aims to be carbon neutral and have zero waste.
Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s state-owned investment company, pledged financial support to the estimated US$22 bn experiment in urban design.
Through smart investments, Masdar City is successfully pioneering a ‘greenprint’ for how cities can accommodate rapid urbanisation and dramatically reduce energy, water and waste. Its first tenant was the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, which has been operating in the city since it moved into its campus in September 2010.
The 640-hectare project is a key component of the Masdar Initiative intended to advance the development of renewable energy and clean-technology solutions for a green, thriving ecology that is beyond oil. The city aims to become a centre for the advancement of new ideas for energy production, and provide a space for businesses to network and grow organically. Pun intended. These businesses will also aim at sustainable growth, aiding the development of Abu Dhabi’s ‘Estidama’ rating system for sustainable building.
Designed by the British architectural firm Foster and Partners, the city relies on solar energy and other renewable energy sources for its energy.


Masdar City is constructed 17 kms east-south-east of Abu Dhabi, and besides the city’s international airport.
A mixed-use, low-rise, high-density development, Masdar City includes the headquarters for the International Renewable Energy Agency and the recently completed Masdar Institute. Strategically located for Abu Dhabi’s transport infrastructure, Masdar is linked to neighbouring communities and the international airport by existing road and rail routes. So everything a business requires to function well is at a stone’s throw distance.
In fact, the city is so green that it will be the first modern community in the world to operate without fossil-fuelled vehicles at a street level. With a maximum distance of 200 mts to the nearest rapid transport links and amenities, the city is designed to encourage walking, while its shaded streets and courtyards offer an attractive pedestrian environment, sheltered from climatic extremes.
The land surrounding the city will contain wind and photovoltaic farms, research fields and plantations, allowing the community to be entirely energy self-sufficient. Jetsons-style driver-less electric cars shuttle around taking you anywhere around the city in almost no time. Masdar is a sustainable development project designed to be friendly to pedestrians and cyclists. The development is divided into two sectors, bridged by a linear park, and is being constructed in phases, beginning with the larger sector.


The master plan is designed to be flexible, to allow it to benefit from emergent technologies and to respond to lessons learnt during the implementation of the initial phases.
Expansion has been anticipated from the outset, allowing for growth while avoiding the sprawl that besets so many cities. While Masdar’s design represents a specific response to its location and climate, the underlying principles are applicable anywhere the world. In that sense, it offers a blueprint for the sustainable city of the future.
At the city’s core is an innovation engine. The city is growing its neighbourhoods around the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. The institute is Masdar City’s

nucleus, which extends a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship throughout. Companies can foster close ties with the university and partner with it to spark economic growth and accelerate breakthrough technologies to market.
Masdar is powered by a 22-ha field of 87, 777 solar panels with additional ones on roofs. There are no light switches or water taps in the city.
You enter a room and movement sensors light it up. Same with the taps – move your hand away from under a tap and water stops gushing out. This is supposed to cut electricity and water consumption by 51 and 55 per cent respectively.

The exterior wood used throughout the city is palm wood, a sustainable hardwood-substitute developed by Pacific Green using plantation coconut palms that no longer bear fruit. Palm wood features include the entrance gates, screens and doors. Water management has been planned in an environmentally sound manner as well. Approximately 80 per cent of the water used will be recycled and waste water will be reused ‘as many times as possible’, with this grey water being used for crop irrigation and other purposes.
The city captures prevailing winds and is naturally cooler and more comfortable during the high summer temperatures. But the sun is also a blessing to this sustainable city. Harnessing the sun’s rays, Masdar uses clean energy generated on site from rooftop solar technology and is one of the largest photovoltaic installations in the Middle East.
With a few thousand people living and working in Masdar City, it is on its way to realising its vision. But this is only the beginning. Masdar City continues to add new businesses, schools, restaurants, apartments and much more, creating the diversity of any major, modern city. When complete, 40,000 people will live in Masdar City, with an additional 50,000 commuting every day to work and study here.
The original master plan envisioned a city functioning on its own grid with full carbon neutrality. However, the development was later hooked into the public system, and by 2016, its managers determined that the city would never reach net-zero carbon levels.


Ten years on, however, only a fraction of the town has been built – less than 5 per cent of the original six sq km ‘greenprint’. The completion date has been pushed back to 2030. Some skeptics are concerned that the city, even when completed, will be only symbolic for Abu Dhabi.
However, this is a brave step toward living in an oil-free world; a world where cities are future-ready. Sustainable and renewable are the keywords here. Where businesses, people and nature can thrive in absolute harmony.