Foster and Partners Masdar Project


The first project as a result of the Masdar Initiative is a new 6 million square meter sustainable development within a seven square KM site that interprets the traditional planning principals of a walled city, together with renewable technologies, to achieve a carbon neutral and zero waste community. Masterplanned by Foster + Partners, the initiative is driven by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, and will be a centre for the development of new ideas for sustainable energy production. Masdar responds to the urban identity of Abu Dhabi while offering a sustainable urban blueprint for the future. Launched at Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2007 and forming the centrepiece of the World Future Energy Summit 2008 , it is an ambitious project that will attract the highest levels of international expertise and commerce, providing a mixed-use, high-density city. The exciting programme includes a new university The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, the Headquarters for Abu Dhabi’s Future Energy Company, special economic zones and an Innovation Center.

Norman Foster said: “The environmental ambitions of the Masdar Initiative – zero carbon and waste free – are a world first. They have provided us with a challenging design brief that promises to question conventional urban wisdom at a fundamental level. Masdar promises to set new benchmarks for the sustainable city of the future.”

The principle of the Masdar development is a dense walled city to be constructed in an energy efficient two-stage phasing that relies on the creation of a large photovoltaic power plant, which later becomes the site for the city’s second phase, allowing for urban growth yet avoiding low density sprawl. Strategically located for Abu Dhabi’s principal transport infrastructure, Masdar will be linked to surrounding communities, as well as the centre of Abu Dhabi and the international airport, by a network of existing road and new rail and public transport routes.

Rooted in a carbon neutral ambition, the city itself is car free. With a maximum distance of 150m to the nearest transport link and amenities, the compact network of streets encourages walking and is complemented by an electric, driverless personalised rapid transport system. The shaded walkways and narrow streets will create a pedestrian-friendly environment in the context of Abu Dhabi’s extreme climate. It also articulates the tightly planned, compact nature of traditional walled cities. With expansion carefully planned, the surrounding land will contain wind, photovoltaic farms, concentrated solar power installation, solar powered desalination, a waste to energy plant, waste recycling, research fields and plantations, so that the city will be entirely self-sustaining.

Courtesy of Foster+Partners

Update July 2010:

Masdar Institute

Masdar, United Arab Emirates, 2007-2010

The Masdar Institute (MI) is the first part of the wider Masdar City Masterplan to be realised and creates a focus for the entire programme, as well as setting the context for subsequent development.  The MI campus embodies the principles and goals of the Masdar City Masterplan to create a prototypical and sustainable city, one in which residents and commuters can enjoy the highest quality of life with the lowest environmental footprint.

Co-architects: RW Armstrong