URB to develop $20bn smart and sustainable city in South Africa

The city will produce 100% of its energy, water & food on site to become a self-sufficient destination, as per the developer

Dubai-based developer, URB, has announced plans for Africa’s largest sustainable city. THE PARKS, which is said to have a development value of $20bn and will occupy an area of 17sqkm, aims to provide the world’s highest standard for sustainable living for an expected 150,000 residents.

The smart and sustainable city is being planned for the eastern region of South Africa; it is expected to be car- and waste-free, feature 40,000 homes across 12 residential districts and boast a mix of residential, medical, tourism, entertainment, retail & education elements. The city aims to promote a Net Zero lifestyle and is expected to produce 100% of its energy, water and food on site to become a self-sufficient destination, the developer said.

According to the developer, the city’s economy will be automated and digital, with the majority of jobs expected to be related to green technology. More than 40,000 jobs will be created in the short and long term during the planning, construction and operation of the city, the developer noted.

In June 2022, Big Project Middle East met with Diamond Developers to exclusively discuss progress at Sharjah Sustainable City.

“THE PARKS is innovatively planned with the highest standards of sustainability to create a car-free community & a unique zero carbon destination. It is designed from a landscape to provide the happiest and healthiest ecosystem,” stated URB CEO Baharash Bagherian.

The city will become a benchmark of economical, viable sustainable living and a positive contribution to the green economic growth of the country, the statement highlighted.

Bagherian is said to have masterminded the designs of various sustainable cities including Xzero, AlNama and Nexgen. He added, “The landscape is designed to promote social sustainability and an active lifestyle, which permeates throughout the public realm of the city. Some of these features include outdoor fitness stations, community farming plots, outdoor sports courts, dedicated jogging and cycling tracks, waste to art public realm and outdoor concerts.”

In early October 2022, CPS said the 96m tall Burj Zanzibar would be built in Africa using hybrid timber technology.

For Bagherian, green spaces are the heart and arteries of the entire development. He remarked, “At the centre of the development there is a unique 5km long multifunctional green spine, which has various branches of vibrant community parks that link all the buildings together.”

This resilient landscape will connect residents to all hubs within the development in minutes by walking, cycling or electric buggies, URB said.

Bagherian continued, “With over 32km of dedicated running, cycling and equestrian tracks, THE PARKS will also provide the greenest and safest modes of active transport.”

In October 2022, Sharjah Sustainable City launched its third phase.

The city is expected to integrate Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Internet of Things (IoT) into its hard and soft infrastructure. The developer noted that these technologies will transform the city’s networks and services into a more efficient, intelligent and collaborative ecosystem.

The city will also boast ‘the most connected mobility strategy’, which will be autonomous, shared, and electric. EV incentives for all residents & smart EV infrastructure will help accelerate the transition towards widespread EV use, the developer explained.

Additionally, THE PARKS will promote ecotourism, with the goal of bringing many benefits to the community, while enhancing travelers’ experiences. As an edge-less city surrounded by a buffer of nature reserve and with hospitality components such as a five-star eco resort and eco lodges, as well as a nature conversation centre, and an ecotourism visitor centre, THE PARKS will become a unique destination for travellers, the developer concluded.

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