The international firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is developing an urban plan to build a new city aimed at accommodating the growing population of Muscat, Oman’s capital. Called “Sultan Haitham City”. The ambitious plan will include 19 districts located over almost 1,500 hectares of land, with a total capacity of 20,000 new homes.
SOM was commissioned by the country’s Ministry of Housing as part of Oman Vision 2040. According to the project brief, the goals of the future architectural facility are to recognize the surrounding “cultural and architectural heritage” and to design contemporary building forms for the city.
The designers therefore prioritized the use of local and natural materials for the project, using a neutral color palette to blend in with the architectural heritage of the place. An essential chapter in designing the new city, is ensuring resilience to climate change, in light of the increasing strength and frequency of seasonal flood events in the region. Indeed, the master plan calls for the transformation of a 7.5-kilometer-long dry river, or wadi, into a public green park capable of retaining water in the event of severe flooding.
According to SOM, “Sultan Haitham City” will also be an important test case for the design of Oman’s “first smart city.” Among the required features will be advanced traffic management systems based on real-time data collected from cameras and speed sensors to improve congestion and public transportation efficiency.