Sudair, Saudi Arabia - INTI - International New Town Institute

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Sudair, Saudi Arabia

Near each of the three main cities of Saudi Arabia new towns have been conceived, with the main goal of creating innovative and inspiring places with favorable business environments, attractive for foreign investment and international knowledge exchange, while at the same time offering attractive employment for a fast-growing young Saudi population. Sudair, situated on a desert site of 250 km2 at one hour drive to the north of the capital Riyadh, has been initiated in 2009. Its original development vision may have been the most ambitious of the three cities, outlining a projected population of around 1.000.000 inhabitants and almost 200 km2 of industrial area. However, development is far behind expectations, as so far only local industries have settled. Residential quarters, education facilities, anchor tenants as well as economic drivers such as the central rail terminal and passenger station have not materialized yet.

Re- envisioning the development path
In 2015, Royal HaskoningDHV has been assigned with a comprehensive re-programming and re-masterplanning assignment. It started with a common understanding that for a reliable and sustainable development road map, the city needed more than simply an update of a masterplan drawing. Conditions necessary for an organic city development had to be created. A broad stakeholder base of diverse public and private actors had to be engaged so as to form a non-negotiable understanding and commitment to the realization of a solid economic foundation: regional airport, central rail logistics terminal, passenger rail station, realization of a national car manufacturing cluster. On the other hand, stronger links to the surrounding communities and villages are prepared on several levels: direct linkages between the residential communities, coordinated programming of housing developments as well as co-operations with regional education institutes to reduce capital investment and help building an attractive brand image of living in the region, in and around Sudair.

Sustainable desert living
To create a sustainable and timeless identity for the city, inspiration was found in the traditional water management systems in the surrounding villages: Their typical system of dams and irrigation pipes was analyzed, and a modernized version based on sub-surface storage basins to prevent evaporation was conceived for Sudair. This will create a green-blue DNA rooted in the heritage of the region. The water management strategy reduces the city’s dependence on groundwater consumption, manages the risk of flash floods and shapes a natural environment that can be programmed into an attractive living environment with a sequence of wadi parks as well as a wildlife park linking the different communities of Sudair.

- Friedemann Römhild, Royal HaskoningDHV, The Netherlands

International New Town Day
Program conference 30 June
Program tours 28-29 June
Practical Information
City Profiles
Side event | Seminar on Sustainable planning of New Towns, July 1