Urban design of the largest net zero community in the world


URB, an urban design firm based in the United Arab Emirates, recently unveiled plans for a 1,600-hectare sustainable city in southern Kuwait. It is called XZERO and will serve as a new model for sustainable cities in the future.

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XZERO aims to provide a zero-carbon lifestyle to approximately 100,000 residents, spread across 30,000 households. The city is holistically designed and features environmental, social and economic sustainability. The master plan incorporates several active and passive design strategies for environmentally responsible design. Active strategies include cutting-edge technology integrated into the city to ensure a high standard of living while minimizing the carbon footprint. These strategies are presented to the residents and serve as an educational tool integrated into their environment.

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People walk, cycle and ride electric buggies in a lush residential area

Meanwhile, passive strategies are a key feature of XZERO and integral to mitigating the site’s hot, desert climate. An example of this is the blue and green infrastructure scattered throughout the city. Blue infrastructure refers to water features such as ponds and streams. Similarly, green infrastructure refers to green spaces such as parks and forests.

In their designs, URB controlled the density of the urban fabric to maximize the ratio of green spaces. This is done by incorporating green spaces into urban heat islands, such as residential areas, for natural cooling. Not only does this allow for magnificent views, but it also encourages interaction between residents and their natural surroundings.

Thriving lake ecosystem surrounded by people sitting on steps, with modular urban housing in the background

The landscape is at the heart of the project and is designed to be resilient and adapted to the local climate. In doing so, it improves well-being and biodiversity in the region. The landscaping is integrated with the wadis, which are valleys that turn into streams during the rainy season. This meticulously designed environment allows people to interact in lush natural spaces that simultaneously support the region’s local flora and fauna.

To connect the inhabitants to the different spaces, the city plan integrates primary and secondary pedestrian networks, shaded and connected to other environmentally friendly transport systems. These include cycling and using electric golf carts to get around different parts of the city.

Futuristic domes positioned at the edge of a thriving body of water

The city will encourage a green circular economy in its agriculture, energy and tourism industries. Each industry has a hub that provides environmentally friendly solutions to the needs of inhabitants. For example, the landscaping incorporates urban agriculture methods to produce food for city dwellers. These include community and vertical gardens, aquaponics and bio-saline agriculture to maximize blue infrastructure and bio-domes for more controlled growing environments. There will also be a green technology center to support food culture to apply proper waste management and to produce and track energy consumption. The city will also rely entirely on renewable energy sources to meet its electricity needs.

Individuals harvesting plants in a futuristic residential area

In addition to serving XZERO residents, the city will promote sustainable tourism through eco-friendly resorts and lodges. The city also incorporates purpose-built edutainment spaces like the Nature Conservation Center and Utility Park to engage and educate visitors.


Images via URB


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