Travel

Masdar: The Zero Carbon, Zero Waste City of the Future

Now under construction in the UAE, Masdar City is a model for urban living in the near future.

posted on 04/26/2010
merlynne6
Scribol Staff

Masdar City / aerial view
Masdar City, UAE / aerial viewPhoto: bigvig / militaryphotos.net

An extraordinary ecological city of the future is being built in the United Arab Emirates, outside of the capital Abu Dhabi. The work force will soon reach 40,000. Situated in the desert, Masdar is a small city that will be 6 square kilometers (2.3 m2). It is designed to house 40,000 people, 1500 businesses and accommodate up to 50,000 commuters. The blazing sun, the ultimate clean power source will power the city. Masdar’s solar farm, which is the largest in the Middle East, is already built. No skyscrapers or cars will be allowed and the streets are designed for pedestrians. Boundary walls prevent urban sprawl and on the narrow streets, buildings are so closely aligned that they shade each other.

Helicopter View of Masdar City
Helicopter View of Masdar City - conceptPhoto: bigvig / militaryphotos.net

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Recycled rebar is used for the ‘concrete’ foundations of Masdar’s buildings.
Masdar Building ConstructionPhoto: chosun.blog

A 40 to 60 watt solar power plant built by the German firm Conergy supplies power for construction work. A larger solar power plant will follow and, together with photovoltaic modules on rooftops, 130 megawatts of solar power is expected to be generated. A solar powered desalination plant will generate the city’s fresh water ~80% of the water will be recycled. Water usage in Madar will be one half that typical of comparably sized small cities. Wind farms will be built on Masdar’s outskirts with a designed power output of 20 megawatts. The world’s largest hydrogen power plant is planned and there are geothermal sources to be exploited.

Masdar Headquarters in Masdar City
Masdar Headquarters in Masdar CityPhoto: chosun blog

Exceptional energy efficiency and reduction in energy footprint at Masdar will be achieved through the integration of several important, almost zero footprint, alternative energy technologies. High fences installed around the city will reduce the impact of hot blowing winds from the desert. Building units use solar glass whose composition is new materials that further reduce the heat burden. Building complexes have high efficiency cooling towers. Fountains and trees will be grown as an additional cooling device. Huge umbrellas unfold during the day and close up at night as shown in these photos. Architects and engineers are projecting that Masdar’s average temperature will be 20 degrees lower than the surrounding desert.

Waste can be reduced to near zero. Biological waste will be used to create a nutrient rich soil (and fertilizer), and some could be burned via waste incineration for power. Industrial wastes such as plastics will be recycled and/or reduced and reused.

Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) Network – Masdar City

The network under construction in Masdar City is designed by Luca Guala of Systematica, vehicle design is by Zagato, and pod cars are manufactured by 2getthere. Driver-less pod cars are powered by solar generated electricity. Lithium phosphate batteries allow for a 60km journey after a 1.5 hr charge. Four to six people can be carried at a maximum speed of 40km/hr. The pod cars are voice activated and guided, tell your pod where to go and presto ..

Masdar Neighborhood and Electric Pod Car Network at Masdar CityPhoto: royalandco

Masdar’s first PRT will serve the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and a smaller additional area. The MIST fleet will consist of 10 passenger and 3 freight pod cars that run on a 1.2km network with 2 passenger and 3 freight stations.

Elevated Personal Rapid Transit at Masdar City
Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) - electric pod cars -  at Masdar City.Photo: chosun.blog

Final deployment of the PRT will utilize 3,000 pod cars that make 130,000 trips per day on a passenger network that has 85 stations. A trip around Masdar City will take about 10 minutes.

The Freight Rapid Transit System (FRT) will run on a dedicated guide way in the undercroft, an artificial basement that can be created by raising the pedestrian level. The FRT system will make 5,000 trips/day using vehicles with two pallets and maximum payload of 1600 kg.

Electric Pod Cars in Masdar
Masdar City / Electric Pod CarsPhoto: Domenick Yonney / autobloggreen

PRT design at this stage has a range of 60km, which allows for 30-40 hours of continuous service before the battery degrades to 20% of full charge. Electric pod cars are now in service at the Port of Rotterdam where they travel on the surface, are not restricted to corridors and a grid of magnets defines the virtual route. Masdar’s PRT uses rows of magnets and there is one magnet every 4 meters (cost ~$5M including fitting) to define the travel path for the pod cars. Highways and a railroad will connect to Abu Dhabi and other cities in the UAE. With no fossil fuel burning vehicles allowed, air quality in Masdar City should be exceptional.

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Masdar Plaza daytime / umbrellas open
<img src=”http://editors.admin.scribol.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/default/files/images/Masdar_plaza-6_open_umbrellas_opt600x480_bustler.net.jpg” alt=”Masdar Plaza at daytime with umbrellas open.” title=”Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA)- Germany / Austria – recently won the first
prize in the Masdar Eco City Center Competition with their concept for the City Plaza. Large heat and sunlight deflecting umbrellas play a major role in temperature and light intensity control.” nid=”59874″ title=”Masdar Plaza at daytime with umbrellas open.” desc=”Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA)- Germany / Austria – recently won the first
prize in the Masdar Eco City Center Competition with their concept for the City Plaza. Large heat and sunlight deflecting umbrellas play a major role in temperature and light intensity control.” align=”none” width=”600″ height=”480″ class=”image image-img_assist_custom-600×480 ” />Photo: Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA)- Germany / Austria

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Masdar Plaza night / umbrellas closed
<img src=”http://editors.admin.scribol.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/default/files/images/Masdar_night_opt600x480_bustler.net.jpg” alt=”Masdar Plaza at night with umbrellas closed.” title=”Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA)- Germany / Austria – recently won the first
prize in the Masdar Eco City Center Competition with their concept for the City Plaza. Large heat and sunlight deflecting umbrellas play a major role in temperature and light intensity control.” nid=”59876″ title=”Masdar Plaza at night with umbrellas closed.” desc=”Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA)- Germany / Austria – recently won the first
prize in the Masdar Eco City Center Competition with their concept for the City Plaza. Large heat and sunlight deflecting umbrellas play a major role in temperature and light intensity control.” link=”none” align=”none” width=”600″ height=”480″ class=”image image-img_assist_custom-600×480 ” />Photo: Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA)- Germany / Austria

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Masdar Institute of Science and Techology / interior view
Masdar Institute of Science and Techology / interior view conceptPhoto: royalandco

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MIST library concept / German architects
Masdar Institute of Science and Technology - library conceptPhoto: Terrell Group, France

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST), will be closely affiliated with the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA. Technologies to be evaluated include a circular array of mirrors on the ground that focus light on a tower in the city center. This tower will redirect a one meter beam of light downward to a system that collects heat that will drive power generators. A 45 meter tall, wind tower may be built to draw breezes through the streets without using any energy input. Masdar is designed to be energy neutral. Electricity will only be used for a desalination plant, some air conditioning and numerous small business and personal gadgets.

Masdar Buildings Masdar street scenePhoto: bigvig / militaryphotos.net

The Masdar Project is supported by the global conservation charity, World Wide Fund for Nature; and the sustainability group BioRegional. Masdar is designed by British architects Foster and Partners. It is largely funded by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s ruler. Cost will be £10-20bn ($15-30bn). Finished by 2015 – 2020, Masdar intends to be an international center for the research and development of cutting edge sustainable technologies, and near zero impact cities of the future. Even if Masdar becomes home to only a very wealthy elite, it will be an invaluable test bed for low environmental impact urbanism.

Building and Energy Systems Designs -
Masdar Headquarters in Abu Dhabi – concept
Masdar headquarters in Abu DhabiPhoto: chosun blog

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Masdar Buildings
Masdar / Street ScenePhoto: bigvig / militaryphotos.net

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Masdar Hotel interior
llwwwPhoto: Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA)- Germany / Austria

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Masdar Hotel exterior
Madar City HotelPhoto: Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA)- Germany / Austria

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Masdar Hotel Plan – Usage and Umbrellas
Masdar Hotel / Energy FlowsPhoto: Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA)- Germany / Austria

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Small (and large) cities such as Masdar are desperately needed by this highly stressed planet we live on and call ‘Earth’. The design imperative of Masdar City to achieve zero waste and zero energy footprints brings with it extraordinary benefits. It is not important that these goals be achieved in the absolute. A paradigm shift is underway in the design and use of urban habitat. Gaia must be very pleased!

Sources -

1, 2, 3, 4,5, 6, 7

Copyright(c) Blumenberg Associates LLC, 2010. The article may be posted and copied elsewhere on blogs and in not-for-profit contexts with the requirement that this copyright notice is clearly visible. For use in for-profit business, please contact the author.

merlynne6
Scribol Staff