Infrastructure

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…

WORDS BY- AMOG

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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.

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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.

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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…

WORDS BY- AMOG

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

WORDS: AMOGH PUROHIT

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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.

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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.

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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

WORDS: AMOGH PUROHIT

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

AUROVILLE IN A GIST

Auroville or the City of Dawn is a unique experimental township situated in Puducherry in South India. Named after Shri. Aurobindo, India’s renowned freedom fighter, this community was founded in 1958 as a township where people from all over the world could live in harmony. The Matri Mandir dedicated to The Mother from the Aurobindo Ashram is a futuristic, spherical temple covered in gold discs and form the epicentre of the township bringing all together as one

WORDS: SEJAL MATHUR

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IF one is to imagine a picture of people belonging to 52 different nationalities residing in 100 settlements lying scattered alongside an idyllic avenue in the countryside all in one frame, well, that’s Auroville!
Popularly known as the City of Dawn, Auroville is a destination that catches the fancy of those inclined toward idealistic learnings. The sanctity of this international community lies in its dedication to peace, sustainability and divine consciousness.
Located down south, inland from the Coromandel coast in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, Auroville is now set to become a universal township.
The Aurovilians hail from about 50 different countries, differing in culture, age, caste and creed, yet bonded by a common purpose, that is to represent humanity which resonates with Auroville’s vision to attain unity within diversity in the mankind.
Initially designed to accommodate half a lakh people, this serene haven now caters to a population over 2,500, with residents from across the world and nearly 60 per cent foreigners. About 12 kms to the northwest of Puducherry, Auroville was instituted in 1968 by the co-founder of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, referred to as ‘the Mother’.
About 5,000 people came together near the banyan tree at the centre of Auroville for an inauguration ceremony attended by delegates from over a 100 nations and from all over India.

The representatives brought with them a handful of soil from their motherland to be mixed into a white marble urn in the shape of a lotus that now stands at the heart of the amphitheatre.
The notion behind Auroville was to develop it into an ideal township, dedicated to an experiment in human unity. In the mid-1960s, the model was conceived and put forth before the Indian government, which gave accorded support and furthered it to the General Assembly of UNESCO which then, in 1966 passed a consensus, acclaiming it as a project of significance to the future of humanity, with a strong backing from their end.
Today, Auroville is acknowledged as the foremost internationally recognised continued experiment in human unity and transformation of consciousness. Moreover, it also incorporates conducting practical research in sustainable living with regards to prospective socio cultural, economic, environmental, as well as spiritual needs.

The Aurovillians are engaged in a wide variety of projects, right from organic farming, renewable energy and handicrafts production to education and information technology, employing 4,000 to 5,000 local villagers.
Over 5,000 people, mostly from the nearby localities, are employed in various sections and units of Auroville. Other activities include afforestation, organic agriculture, basic educational research, health care, village development, appropriate technology, town planning, water table management, cultural activities, and community services.

Instead of paper and coin currency, residents are provided with account numbers connected to their central account while they are requested to get a temporary account and a debit card called ‘Aurocard’.
Residents of Auroville are expected to furnish a monthly contribution to the community and help the members whenever possible in cash or kind through their work.

The Master Plan strategy at Auroville is to determine how economic and intellectual resources, which are usually associated with urban areas, can advantageously be used to enable a balanced development and in conceiving a socially just and economically sound society.

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Auroville is all set to lay a benchmark in planning settlements with deep rooted urban-rural linkages to provide a setting that vaunts of integrating both under one umbrella for a mutual wellbeing.

The guest contribution which is a daily emolument paid by the guests of Auroville, forms an integral part of the township’s budget. In return, there is a system of maintenance wherein Aurovilians who are in need, can accept a monthly maintenance sum from the community to look after their necessities.
The Indian government owns and manages the Auroville Foundation and finances a small part of its budget, through contributions from its commercial units.
What constitutes a significant part of their profits to the township include building construction units, information technology, small and medium scale businesses, as well as the items sold in Auroville’s own shop in Puducherry – producing and re-selling items such as handmade paper for stationery items and its famous incense sticks which can be purchased or sold in and outside India.
Meticulous planning and thoughtful design is where the peculiarity of this township lies. At the centre of the township lies the Peace area, comprising the Matrimandir and its gardens along with the amphitheatre with the Urn of Human Unity.
Laid over 190 hectares, the residential zone is the largest of the four city zones, girdled by parks on three sides. The crown road is planned to act as the main access to the zone while the five radial roads act as sub routes, dividing the zone into sectors of increasing densities.

This zone is focused on ensuring a harmonised habitat acting as a link between individual and communal living. More than half the area is dedicated for open spaces with the remaining 45 per cent as built up, thus maintaining a balance between urban density and nature whilst following planning standards.
The industrial zone which is located north of the Peace area is spread over 109-hectares. It is earmarked for green industries that aim to help develop Auroville in its endeavour to become a self-supporting township.
It is created to overlook the city’s administration, apart from comprising small and medium-scale industries, training centers, arts and crafts.
The international zone is designed to host national and cultural pavilions, and is a 74 ha wide arena lying west of the Peace area. It emphasises on safeguarding unity in diversity within mankind, aligned with goals of Auroville.

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Another 93 hectares have been reserved as the Cultural zone, a place for applied research in education and artistic expression. It also caters to other facilities, not limited to cultural, educational, arts and sports. The city spanning over a radius of 1.25 kms will be encircled by an equivalent green belt. As a zone for organic farms, dairies, orchards, flora and fauna, this 405-hectare large belt shall not only offer a recreational space but also work as a buffer with habitats for the wildlife besides serving as a source of food, timber and medicines.
Moreover, it serves as a fertile zone for applied research in the sectors of food production, forestry, soil conservation, water management, waste management, and other areas working toward facilitating sustainable development.
Although incomplete, the green belt is quoted as a successful case of transformation of a wasteland into a well-functioning eco-system.
Serving as lungs for the whole of Auroville, its further planned extension with an additional 800 hectares will make it a remarkable demonstration site for soil and water conservation, ground water recharge, and environmental restoration.
Auroville is all set to lay a benchmark in planning settlements with deep rooted urban-rural linkages to provide a setting that vaunts of integrating both under one umbrella for a mutual wellbeing.
It shall act as a model for rapidly urbanising Indian and foreign cities to replicate and emulate. This would help in the formulation of an integrated master plan for Auroville and its hinterland, wherein both city and environment, rural and urban areas would ingenuously complement each other.

The Master Plan strategy at Auroville is to determine how economic and intellectual resources, which are usually associated with urban areas, can advantageously be used to enable a balanced development and in conceiving a socially just and economically sound society. Auroville’s perception is to lay the foundation of a city that will utilise land to meet economic requisites by pioneering development strategies with an optimum density mix, aesthetically appealing urban forms and adequate amenities.
The results of such innovative methods will be available for application in both rural and urban areas everywhere in support of their development.
Rejoicing in an atmosphere of its own, Auroville is a place known for its ‘Beauty in Simplicity’. It’s a place reflecting a beautiful communion of like-minded people from all over the world who believe in mental peace and live with minimal expectations.
One of the visitors quoted his experience describing the beautiful gardens and the inner parts of the unique spherical shaped Matrumandir, where one can meditate in a circular hall with beams of sunlight falling on a clear crystal ball creating a unique environ for meditation.
It is often written about as a thriving spiritual, sustainable and symbiotic society. From the beautiful Auroville beach to the ancient Irumbai temple, from beautiful green villages lined with community farms to wonderful modern architecture and exciting vegan food catering to every taste bud, there are many experiences to be had here. Every traveler must take a solo, solacing trip to this wonderful place.