Nature City

Imagining a preferred future, this idealized city moves beyond building “green” to regenerating the ecosystem and delicately inserting a new human habitat within.

When Abu Dhabi was first developed, islands and mangroves were dredged to create an industrial port area. In 2008, the city invited us to design a mixed-use masterplan for nearly 14 square miles of the South Al Hudayriat Island area. “Nature City” was an opportunity to mimic, accelerate, and catalyze the processes of nature—to bring back the native mangroves and local ecology to create an idyllic environment for living.

Our masterplan includes housing sites, urban villages, and schools, along with every type of necessary infrastructure, including public transport. The regenerative masterplan goes beyond building “green” to rebuilding ecosystems and supporting human engagement with the natural world.

We started with simulations of what nature would do when re-established. Mangroves form their own ecosystem, so by reconstructing the mangrove forest we could create the basis for a new habitat. We hired biologists to work out what animals had once inhabited this wonderful site, and how to create the optimal environment to bring them back and, in doing so, provide the optimal habitat for our own species.

After re-establishing the land, flora, and fauna, we could then delicately insert human habitation within that. The vision is a wonderful new city—a Nature City in tune with the harmonies of the world. A city that reconsiders how our civilization builds, to ensure we set a new, more positive way forward, so we can continue to evolve in a healthy and hospitable environment.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
180,000,000 SF
Masterplanning, Architecture
Project Team
Chad Oppenheim, Carl Römer, Juan Calvo, Lester Rey, Sebastian Velez, Jose Ortez, Rachel Stigler, Francisco Garcia, Juan Mullerat, Sofia Viilanueva, Juan López, Kevin McMorris, Santiago Eliaschev, Jacobus Bruyning; In association with Demetri Baches, Kenneth Hitchens, and Studio LFA
Image Credit

Nature City