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The world’s first sustainable city, located in the United Arab Emirates, is set to be completed in 2020-2025. It is called Masdar, which in Arabic means ‘the Source’.

Seventeen kilometres from Abu Dhabi, the government-initiated Masdar will take on the winning design by Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA).

The city will be built in seven stages. Six buildings of stage one were completed in October 2010, but stage one’s completion was then suspended until 2015.

Source: LAVA

Some of the winning design elements include:

  • Zero carbon, zero waste
  • Powered entirely by renewable energy sources
  • “Sunflower” umbrellas that can mediate outside temperature
  • Wall surfaces that adapt to changing temperatures
  • Rooftop gardens
  • Adaptive building facades that adjust to capture sunlight
  • Underground water storage
  • Sustainability-minded five-star hotel, central plaza, convention center, entertainment complex, and shops

At the offset, Masdar City will accomodate 40,000 residents, 50,000 commuters, and over 1,500 companies.

Read more about sustainable tourism.

The city will span 6 square kilometres and cost an estimated US$18.7 billion. No cars or personal vehicles will be allowed within the city, which will allow for narrow, cooler walking paths and less smog.

“Sunflower” umbrellas (seen below) will create shade, reflect desert sunlight, and store heat during the day. At night in Masdar, the umbrellas will close, releasing the heat stored during the day and opening up the space for shopping, dining, luxury lodging and even the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Source: LAVA

Source: LAVA

Source: LAVA

LAVA provides every logistical detail regarding their design, from air circulation to underground intricacies. They have also designed classrooms, hostels, shelters, digital origami tigers and much more.

Is this design really the beginning of a sustainable development trend, or is the project too expensive and unrealistic to succeed? Whatever the answer may be, the world’s first carbon neutral city is an example of innovation and forward-thinking in design that could transform the Earth.

See this 6-minute video that was made by architecture and real estate marketing agency, Wordsearch, for the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in 2010. It’s a little out of date, but excellent nonetheless.