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Zero Carbon; Zero Waste in Abu Dhabi

Foster + Partners is building an eco-friendly oasis in the desert

Foster + Partners is designing the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste city in Abu Dhabi. Named Masdar City, which means “the source,” the 1,483-acre project will include commercial and manufacturing space dedicated to developing ecofriendly products, housing, a university, and the headquarters for Future Energy Company, which is spearheading the initiative.

Although the desert might seem an unlikely location for such a large sustainable undertaking, Masdar will tread lightly on the landscape by harnessing solar power and relying on construction features that resist high temperatures, including extra shading and slab cooling. Its design is rooted in the Arabic tradition of walled cities—but Masdar’s stone-and-mud walls will be covered in photovoltaic panels capable of generating 130 megawatts. Along the site’s northern edge, the walls will be more permeable to let in breezes. Electricity will also come from photovoltaic cells integrated into rooftops and a 20-megawatt wind farm. The city will get its water from a solar-powered desalination plant.