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$1.3bn waterfront project to give facelift to Muscat

11 Mar 2024 $1.3bn waterfront project to give facelift to Muscat By OUR CORRESPONDENT

Muscat – The Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning (MoHUP) has revealed plans for a US$1.3bn Al Khuwair Muscat Downtown and Waterfront Development project, which is likely to give a major facelift to the capital city.

Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), the project will come up on a 3.3mn sqm of land, officials informed.

The sustainability-led design prioritises the well-being of residents and visitors, redefining urban living in Oman as Muscat’s population is anticipated to almost double from 1.5mn to 2.7mn by 2040.

Responding to this rapid growth, ZHA’s design will transform this existing administrative and industrial area of Muscat into a vibrant new urban district with an expected population of 64,500.

The district will comprise five key areas: A marina, a recreational waterfront lined with beaches and sports facilities, a canal walkway, a cultural quarter and a Ministry campus.

Incorporating residential areas extensive mixed-use developments catering to government and commercial businesses, together with arts, culture, and leisure spaces, the district will be a thriving, environmentally resilient and sustainable development with a 24-hour community, a press release stated.

The development will include destination dining experiences, luxury retail outlets, health and wellness facilities, hotels, and residential spaces.

MHUP and ZHA have worked with global engineering, design and advisory practice Buro Happold to implement a materials strategy with specific interventions to assist with climate and coastal resilience, including mitigating any ‘urban heat island’ effects, stormwater management and breakwaters.

It prioritises material reuse, including recycled construction materials and responsible sourcing, and buildings within the Ministry campus will be retrofitted and reused through a programme of refurbishments.

Throughout the walkable development, Transport-Oriented Development principles will encourage use of public transportation with good connections to transit services underpinning smart mobility, including light rail transit, bus rapid transit and water taxis.

Pedestrian activity will be encouraged by introducing passive shading and cooling to the public realm, alongside cycle infrastructure to improve the safety and usability of active transport modes, while capitalising on the carbon savings of minimising private vehicle use.

Onsite renewable energy with solar energy will be maximised alongside a passive design strategy to limit energy demand and reduce water use in buildings and landscaping.

Additionally, it is targeting a biodiversity net gain of 10% while conserving and restoring native plant species.

The announcement follows the appointment of Zaha Hadid Architects to the project as part of 30 agreements signed with the MHUP last month. MHUP has also been working with CBRE as the strategic partner responsible for implementing a financially viable, place-led, people-focused development and will establish the governance framework for the management entity overseeing the masterplan.

Paolo Zilli, Project Director and Associate Director at Zaha Hadid Architects, said: “Seamlessly integrated within the urban fabric of Muscat, Al Khuwair will create a bridge between the coastal landscapes of the Arabian Sea and the Hajar Mountains that surround the city.”

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