A few weeks ago Professor John Quale came to guest lecture about Carbon Neutral buildings.   The lecture reminded me of Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  I had heard of Masdar before in my Urban and Environmental Planning Town Design class and have wanted to write a blog post on the example.  Masdar is designed as a sustainable city in the Arabian Desert.  The city was designed by Foster and Partners, which is the same firm that did the Commerzbank Headquarters in Frankfurt I had recently discussed.  The designed involves a square plan, one mile in each direction and raised on a 23-foot-high  base.  The reason for the base is to allow for desert breezes to circulate through the city. In terms of transportation, there would be driverless electric cars navigating silently through underground tunnels, which pedestrian streets sit above ground.   The city focuses on thermal mass and shading as well through various forms of architecture.   I think the city is a great start towards carbon neutral buildings.  It proposes great sustainable ideas for architecture and for planning a city.  However, it just seems to be a bit over the top.  So much that it seems too good to be true, and very expensive for people to live and work.  Additionally, because the city is designed to be in the middle of the desert, it is seemingly cut off from surrounding environments.   On the Ecocity blog, Richard Register, Author, theorist, philosopher and 35 year veteran of the ecocity movement, argues that, “ Maybe massive solar energy, once established, could run artificially refrigerated environments on the sun’s energy, partially shaded, solar cooled greenhouses producing food, fish farms also run on solar, boats on solar electricity and on and on after massive investments. But the kind of synthetic life there would seem unbearable to anyone who loves natural animals or plants. Very weird.”  I love the idea of Masdar, but the goals seem a little farfetched for the location and technology.  I think the best attributes of the city are its ideas of mixed use, sustainable designs and research ambitions.  However, the futuristic model seems too synthetic to be truly sustainable.

What do you think of Masdar City? Do you think it will reach its goal of 100% renewable energy, 80% of water recycled, 0 waste, 0 emissions?

For more information on Masdar City you can go to:






For debates on Masdar City visit here: