Compact City Oman

Compact city is a design for a sustainable neighborhood in Al Khoudh within the larger Muscat Capital Area based on cultural, climatic and economic criteria of sustainability. This model – both a research method to evaluate, interpret and integrate specific criteria of sustainability as well as a design proposal for a sustainable neighborhood - exemplifies an integrated approach to urbanism adapted to the local Omani conditions.

The project is anchored in a larger inter-disciplinary research project 'Towards sustainable urbanisation patterns in Oman'. It represents a method of investigating, evaluating and interpreting specific cultural, climatic and economic criteria of sustainability as well as an experimental urban design proposal to quantify and qualify the approach. The design proposal can be implemented with modest means due to its relative size. 

The proposal aims to develop an alternative to the present process of urbanisation in Oman: Urban sprawl - as witnessed by rapid land consumption, dependency on car-based mobility, use of depleting fossil fuels, deterioration of traditional lifestyle patterns and destruction of landscape. A sustainable alternative needs to be rooted in local culture and adapted to specific conditions of Oman. Previously imported concepts of sustainability failed to meet the complex social, cultural, climatic, ecologic and economic parameters inherent to Oman. The area suitable for urbanisation in Oman is located along the coast of the Indian Ocean. Urbanisation threatens the fragile balance of nature, agriculture and settlements that evolved over millennia. It destroys habitats for animals such as migratory birds, coastal fish, endangered sea turtles and endemic plants. 

The project uses parametric integration of sustainability criteria into a dynamic, adaptive, responsive and participatory urbanism engine. The design strategies are as follows: Densification of settlements to reduce the footprint of the city, shorten the distances to travel and to keep land reserves for the future, while addressing the demand for housing and diversification of the settlement functions. The model is therefore scalable and transposable to neighboring countries and beyond.

Authors: Aurel von Richthofen 
with Alessia Pegorin and Riccardo Del Fabbro
Place: Al Khoud, Oman
Year: 2013
Size: 2000000m2
Type: Research Project
Client: The Research Council Oman 
Compact City model for Oman - location Al Khoudh
Generative Diagrams of the model city - sustainability criteria shape the layout
Scalar comparison: Conventional and Compact Cities in Oman: Al Khoudh
Quantitive comparison: Densities and floor ratios
Compact City model for Oman

Qurm Villas

The Qurm Villas originate in the clients desire to built four houses for his four grown up kids: In order to avoid a quarrel between the siblings all villas needed to be the same size and layout, but each with a different orientation and expression. The four villas are designed like genetic siblings.

Parametric Urban Design Model / Qurm

Within the research project, we developed tools and methods to map these environmental, cultural and programmatic parameters into a cohesive urban design mechanism. This mechanism can be adapted and applied to any site in Oman or the Gulf region from the scale of a few houses to larger mixed use developments.

Bitterfeld Wolfen

The competition entry for the urban design in Bitterfeld-Wolfen explores a systemic approach to design along three lines of investigation: an ecological axis of transformation, a demographic axis of transformation and an economic axis of transformation. The design embraces the "artificiality" of the context and proposes a compact parametric urban design.

Scitech TV - Houses

Scitech TV documents the research project sponsored by the Research Council Oman "Towards Sustainable Patterns of Urbanisation in Oman" conducted by GUtech and SQU, featuring Aurel von Richthofen and Haitham Al Busafi as well as GUtech students.