Oman reveals $1.3 billion waterfront project in Muscat Downtown

The 3.3 million sq m project has been designed by Zaha Hadid Architects
Oman reveals $1.3 billion waterfront project in Muscat Downtown
Al Khuwair Muscat Downtown P(Photo Credit: Oman's Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning)

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning (MoHUP) in Oman has announced a $1.3 billion project known as the Al Khuwair Muscat Downtown and Waterfront Development. The development, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), will be situated on a vast 3.3 million square meter plot of land. The project aims to transform the capital city, Muscat, and enhance its overall appearance.

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The design, driven by sustainability principles, places a strong emphasis on the well-being of both residents and visitors. It seeks to redefine urban living in Oman, particularly in light of Muscat’s projected population growth. By 2040, the city’s population is expected to nearly double from 1.5 million to 2.7 million. In response to this rapid expansion, ZHA’s design will convert the existing administrative and industrial area of Muscat into a dynamic new urban district with an anticipated population of 64,500.

Five main components

The district will consist of five main components: a marina, a recreational waterfront featuring beaches and sports facilities, a canal walkway, a cultural quarter, and a Ministry campus. The development will incorporate various residential areas and extensive mixed-use buildings catering to government and commercial entities. It will also include spaces dedicated to arts, culture, and leisure activities. The vision for the district is to create a vibrant, environmentally resilient, and sustainable community that thrives 24 hours a day.

Wide array of amenities

The project will offer an array of amenities, such as destination dining experiences, luxury retail outlets, health and wellness facilities, hotels, and residential spaces. To ensure climate and coastal resilience, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning and ZHA have collaborated with Buro Happold, a global engineering, design, and advisory practice. Together, they have developed a materials strategy that incorporates specific measures to mitigate urban heat island effects, manage stormwater, and construct breakwaters. The strategy also emphasizes material reuse, including the use of recycled construction materials and responsible sourcing. Moreover, the Ministry campus will undergo retrofitting and refurbishment to promote sustainability.

Transport-oriented development principles

Transport-Oriented Development principles will be implemented throughout the pedestrian-friendly development to encourage the use of public transportation. The plan includes excellent connectivity to transit services, facilitating smart mobility options such as light rail transit, bus rapid transit, and water taxis. The development will feature passive shading and cooling techniques, as well as cycling infrastructure, to promote pedestrian activity and improve the safety and accessibility of alternative modes of transportation. By minimizing private vehicle use, the development aims to capitalize on carbon savings.

To limit energy demand and reduce water consumption in buildings and landscaping, the project will maximize the use of onsite renewable energy, particularly solar energy. A passive design strategy will be employed to achieve these goals. The development also aims to achieve a 10 percent net gain in biodiversity while conserving and restoring native plant species.

The appointment of Zaha Hadid Architects to the project marks one of 30 agreements recently signed with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning. The MHUP has also partnered with CBRE, a strategic advisory firm, to ensure the project’s financial viability and its focus on creating a people-centric development. The MHUP will establish a governance framework for the management entity responsible for overseeing the masterplan.

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