In the desert and hills outside Jeddah, on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, a high-tech new city is beginning to emerge. When it is finished 20 years from now, Murooj Jeddah will be home to 170,000 people in a sustainable city based on low carbon technologies and minimal car travel and commuting.
As part of an international team developing the masterplan for Murooj (formerly known as Wadi Al Asla), we undertook planning and detailed design of the entire infrastructure for the new city. Our work has embraced design, transport and utilities to water and waste water treatment, and we have also carried out socio-economic and environmental studies.
“It’s a huge site facing many constraints,” says WYG Project Director, Colin Shields. “Its total area is 130 km2, including sand and mountains. When it rains, the area is prone to flooding and the water just runs straight into the Red Sea, so we worked on flood defences with a specialist dam consultancy as well as carrying out all the transport and infrastructure planning and design.”
A major new regional hub
Located just 15km east of Jeddah, Murooj Jeddah is being designed as a major regional hub that can cater for the future expansion needs of Jeddah. Developed by the Jeddah Development and Urban Regeneration Company (JDURC), the city’s architect is HOK. The design includes 40,000 houses and a social infrastructure incorporating schools and retail facilities, a hospital, a mosque, a university and, a technology park. The city will also have 3 football stadiums, a horse race track, 2 golf courses, a safari park and other theme parks.
This area of the city has been designed to reduce the need for residents to commute. In addition, we have designed 90km of primary roads as well as utilities.
Colin Shields adds: “Designing a city of this size is not done single-handedly so we worked with HOK and TAPCO (a Jeddah-based engineering company) on the initial masterplan, advising on the delivery of the social infrastructure, such as schools, religious buildings and open spaces needed for a sustainable city. We also advised on economic requirements, including how to create employment opportunities.”
A natural oasis
According to Colin, some of the site’s natural resources came as quite a surprise: “As part of our programme, our ecologists looked at the site and were delighted by the unique flora and fauna that they found. Some of the new planting is now complete, irrigated by river water, and this is providing a natural oasis for the wildlife, as well as a series of parks for visitors from Jeddah.”
The masterplan has already received recognition for its urban design credentials by CityScape Riyadh.