The Atlantic - CityLab: Muscat

Muscat sits on the Gulf of Oman, where the rocky Hajar Mountains rise up behind the city, leaving only a narrow strip for building. This geography—combined with the fact that the favored architectural style is one of whitewashed, low-rise buildings—has created a city design with incredible lengthwise sprawl. The capital is physically the size of Los Angeles, but houses less than a quarter of that city’s population of 3.9 million. It’s a very low-density city.

Such a unique city layout and such a small population—plus heavily subsidized gasoline provided to citizens by the government—have made cars an easy, attractive means of transport, no doubt contributing to the country’s love of all things automobile. “It’s the ultimate car-based city,” says Aurel von Richthofen, an architect with Future Cities Laboratory Singapore who conducted research on urbanization patterns in Oman from 2010 to 2014. “Muscat’s sprawl affects mobility and transport even more than in sprawling American cities like Los Angeles,” he tells CityLab.

 

http://www.citylab.com/cityfixer/2016/05/experimenting-with-public-trans...

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Topos Journal: Desert Sprawl

Aurel writes in Topos, the International Review of Landscape, Architecture and Urban Design about landscape destruction in Oman due to rapid urbanization. The essay is accompagnied by a photo series and appears in two versions online 2014 and in print 2015.

Baumeister Journal: Oman - the Anti-Dubai?

Aurel writes about urbanisation trends and sustainability in Oman in Germany's oldest architecture magazine - Baumeister. The conservative development in Muscat is seen in contrast to fast paced Dubai. The specificities of urban sprawl, land allocation system, destruction of landscape are descrtibed as well as typical modern villas and sub-urban settlement patterns. The article concludes with a manifesto for sustainable urbanism adapted to Oman.

Urban Oman Research

The research project “Towards Sustainable Patterns of Urbanization” founded by The Research Council Oman (TRC) has lead to various collaborations with other international academic institutions. As co-investigator on the project in Oman, I have been coordinating these exchanges and channeling them into significant contributions to the larger research project while providing the students with academic frame-work, access and exposure.

Arab Gulf Cities in Transition: Space, Politics and Society

The cities in the Arab Gulf are developing in a fast and unprecedented way. The vast majority of the growing population of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are concentrated in these cities. While they are a focal point for immigration, they are unique spaces and places on various other levels, too: In many cases the Arab Gulf cities represent the exclusive political and economic centres of their countries; they consume a vast amount of energy; they have surpassed other Arab cities in their size and scale; their exponential growth is driven by diminishing fossil resources and, therefore, they have realised the urgent need to adopt sustainable development policies.

Gulf Research Meeting 2012

This urban form is at the same time the “result” of demographic and economic constraints and the cultural “product” of careful negotiation and aesthetic politics. e urban form, manifested in an expansive urban sprawl, radically and irreversibly changes the environment in which the majority of the Omanis live. ese circumstances condition the production of visual culture. e emergence of visual culture through the deployment of urbanism is far from coincidental, and yet distinctively Omani, as the process sets itself apart from the ashy development in other GCC countries.