At the same time as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's visit to France, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has just publicly released a new video showing the urbanist ambition of its futuristic megapolis NEOM, currently under development.
For those who have not yet read about it in our columns, NEOM is a multi-billion dollar project that aims to build a linear city on the coast of the Red Sea, in northwest Saudi Arabia. A city with its own laws, courts, and taxation system, but above all, which will aim to be powered entirely by renewable energy. With NEOM, the project claims a vision that could revolutionize urban planning around the world: the city of the future.
How to deliver on the promise?
The city will draw its energy from renewable sources and prioritize people’s health and well-being over transportation and infrastructure as may be the case in traditional cities. Putting nature before development is expected to help preserve 95 percent of NEOM’s land, according to project officials.
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What’s in this new announcement?
In the latest communication from the Saudi government, we learn more about the most important features of The Line, which is only 200 meters wide and 170 kilometers long, but rises 500 meters above sea level. This is higher than the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building.
The Line could eventually accommodate some 9 million inhabitants and should be built on an area of 34 square kilometers, an unprecedented feat compared to other cities of similar capacity. The underlying idea is to reduce the infrastructure footprint and create a never-before-seen efficiency in city functions. Thanks to its milder climate than in the country’s most arid regions, future residents should be able to take advantage of the surrounding nature while walking.
For a key point of the model is that residents will have access to all the facilities necessary for daily life within a five-minute walk, in addition to a high-speed train offering end-to-end transit in 20 minutes. This is a whole new approach to urban design: the idea of vertically layering city functions while giving people the ability to move fluidly in all three dimensions (up, down, or horizontally) to access them is a concept called Zero Gravity Urbanism. Here, it is not only about large buildings, but also about public parks and pedestrian areas, schools, homes, and workplaces, so that it is possible to move effortlessly and satisfy all daily needs in less than five minutes.
Finally, the entire “city” will be enveloped by a wall made of mirrors, for an effect that promises to be most striking.
So far, about $8 billion has been invested in the project, according to the Saudi government.