We’ve built you a better ArchDaily. Learn more and let us know what you think. Send us your feedback »

Inside Masdar City

The Middle East has historically been known for many things — sustainability not being one of them. The clash of Western values with the harshness of the local climate can often wedge sustainability between a lot of sand and a hard place. Though there is a broad critique of the unsustainable attributes of the region’s development path, for years there has been a shining exception: Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates, seventeen kilometers east-south-east from the city of Abu Dhabi. 

Masdar City exists as an urban development project run by the renewable energy company Masdar, who has committed $15 billion to making Masdar City the planet’s most sustainable new city. Unlike Abu Dhabi, a city which unthinkingly follows antiquated models and Western building principles, Masdar City has a wealth of potential to offer the world of green urban planning - something the world sorely needs.

But Masdar City is certainly not without its share of critics. On first approach, the concentrated development, located in the center of six square kilometers of empty space, does little to awe, especially in comparison to the sprawling wave that is Abu Dhabi. Thanks largely to the global financial recession, buildings currently comprise less than 10% of the area committed to the urban experiment. Even today there is a group of onlookers that suggest Masdar City may just be a mirage after all.

However, this broader view is not necessarily synonymous with the bigger picture.

Buildings at Masdar incorporate numerous material and construction strategies for minimizing heat gain including metal screening, terracotta cladding and air-filled wall panels. Image © Tyler Caine Exterior sun-shading on the Siemen’s Buildings, designed by Sheppard Robson. Image © Tyler Caine A public courtyard framed by student dormitories for Masdar Institute. Terracotta walls regulate solar heat gain, incorporating screens and shaded, exterior porches. Image © Tyler Caine The modular design of the sunshade panels was parametrically derived from goals of blocking the most sun, allowing the most interior view, while using the least amount of material and the least amount of structure to hang it. Image © Tyler Caine

Apple teams with Norman Foster

© Foster + Partners
© Foster + Partners

Recently reported in El Economista, Apple has chosen to team up with Norman Foster for its new Apple Campus in Cupertino, California.  Steve Jobs and Norman Foster have been working together for months developing the design for the new campus. The future headquarters will seek to utilize Foster’s innovative vision for sustainability, ability to perfect a building for its users down to the finest detail, and ideas to maximize efficiency in the workplace. Sustainability, is reported to be a large focus of the new campus.   A network of submerged transportation tunnels is in the works and the campus will incorporate some of the Foster’s innovations already implemented in Masdar City, designed by Foster + Partners.  Masdar City is considered the first city in the world without cars or carbon emissions (capacity 50,000).  The R & D buildings will be multifunctional and will incorporate cutting-edge technology in materials and equipment as well as renewable energy resources. Apple and architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson had previously teamed up to design Apple Stores worldwide.  In August we featured the London Apple Store and in July we featured the Apple Store in Shanghai, China both designed Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. In true Apple fashion, everything is hush hush, and it is all about the reveal.  We will look forward to seeing the result of the collaboration between Jobs and Foster.  Stay tuned to ArchDaily for the latest developments.