Much of engineering today is smart design aiming to reduce our carbon footprint.  So, when I happened across a video about one of the most interesting futuristic cities in Saudi Arabia looking to deliver a zero-carbon urban oasis, I had to find out more. 

Down the rabbit hole I went, and it took me across the globe.  I discovered that architects, urban planners, and entrepreneurs are designing and building new futuristic cities worldwide that promise to be more sustainable, technologically advanced, and livable than ever before.


NEOM, Building Cross Section | Courtesy of Alamy

The city at started me on this path was a proposed city in Saudi Arabia known as NEOM, also referred to as “The Line”. This unique metropolis will consist of 2 parallel, 106-mile-long buildings with micro neighborhoods housed in between.  The interiors’-controlled microclimate environment will be powered entirely by renewable energy. And some notable features will be smart infrastructure, high-speed transportation, and sustainable living.  

According to THENATIONALNEWS.COM, NEOM is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan. Its aim is to diversify the country’s economy and reduce its dependence on oil.  When completed, it would house a staggering 9 million people.  But today it’s apparently more than a concept.  The National News, January 20, 2023, article reports satellite images have captured mobilization in the area, geared up to start the project.  The article goes on to say that the estimated completion of the $500 billion project is slated for 2025.


In 2021 several new outlets reported on an ambitious plan by entrepreneur Marc Lore, to build Telosa. His $400 Billion-dollar proposed utopia would be the most sustainable and equitable city in the world; a model for inclusivity, innovation, and green living. The 150,000-acre project would be built in the American Southwest and feature high-tech infrastructure, renewable energy, car-free roads and green spaces.


Oceanix Image courtesy of OCEANIX/BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group

An equally ambitious endeavor is Oceanix in Busan, South Korea. What sets this apart from many of the other futuristic communities? It will be a fully self-sustainable floating city.  According to Newsweek this water-faring metropolis is aiming to have “a floodproof infrastructure that rises with the sea”.  So, the plan is to construct 15.5-acres of interconnecting water villages; each dedicated to a specific purpose, living, research, lodging, etc.  And the entire community would be home to 12,000 people.


Masdar City, in Abu Dhabi, is more than a concept; the first 6 buildings were completed in 2010.  The mixed used urban development is powered entirely by renewable energy, including wind and solar.  And the transportation system is also eco-friendly, with driverless electric vehicles and personal rapid transit (PRT) systems. According to Wikipedia, Masdar City was initially slated to complete in 2015 but completion was pushed out due to the global financial crisis.  However, as of June of 2022, groundbreaking for expansion began, and now projected to complete in 2024.


But sustainability and equitable growth is not a new concept.  One futuristic city, an early pioneer of the movement,  which has already set a standard for sustainable development is Alt Erlaa in Vienna, Austria. Alt Erlaa is a residential complex that was built in the 1970s and was designed to be energy-efficient and ecologically friendly. The complex features a range of green technologies, including solar panels, thermal insulation, and a district heating system. Alt Erlaa has not only become a model for sustainable development, inspiring similar projects around the world.  But its success has created a multi-generational community of families that continue to champion the cause.