A while back I did a project on the future of car culture that uncovered some outlandish approaches to replacing the car. Well it’s happening and the testing grounds are a fully sustainable city in the Arabian desert.“Disneyland is attractive because all the services are below ground, the idea here is to do the same — it is literally a walled city where traditional cars are stopped at the edges.”
Visitors can then enter the city from a large, dark hall facing a row of white, pod-shaped cars lined up in rectangular glass bays. Daylight spills down a rough concrete wall behind them, hinting at the life above. After the system goes live, within a few weeks, a user will be able to step into a car and choose a destination on an LCD screen. The car will then silently navigate itself into the underground network of traffic.
It’s the world’s first zero-carbon city built on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. The project began with a meticulous study of old Arab settlements, the point was to go back and understand the fundamentals, how these communities had been made livable in a region where the air can feel as hot as 150 degrees.
“Among the findings his office made was that settlements were often built on high ground, not only for defensive reasons but also to take advantage of the stronger winds. Some also used tall, hollow “wind towers” to funnel air down to street level. And the narrowness of the streets — which were almost always at an angle to the sun’s east-west trajectory, to maximize shade — accelerated airflow through the city.”
“They combined architectural approaches that have the potential to make Masdar feel as much as 70 degrees cooler. In so doing, they could more than halve the amount of electricity needed to run the city. Of the power that is used, 90 percent is expected to be solar, and the rest generated by incinerating waste (which produces far less carbon than piling it up in dumps). The city itself will be treated as a kind of continuing experiment, with researchers and engineers regularly analyzing its performance, fine-tuning as they go along.”