Gulf Research Meeting 2011

Present day Muscat Capital Area (MCA) developed over the last four decades. It is the largest urban development in Oman and characterized by a rapid urban sprawl. While many cities in the Gulf Region witnessed intense urbanization in the late 20th century until today, the results in MCA are surprisingly different.

MCA is a predominantly low rise urban area and does not feature a skyline. The vector towards the present extension was set in the 1970s, shortly after HM Sultan Qaboos ascended to the throne. Due to the impossibility to plan the development at that time with standard methods, Oman adopted novel techniques of regulating the process in the form of Royal Decrees, specific instruments of the Ministry of Land Affairs, land allocation by lottery and the a financial institution issuing credits bound to building codes. These mechanisms remain unchanged to the present day, making MCA the ideal object to study the underlying urban genetics and the resulting phenotype. The rules and regulations are transformed into a parametric model of MCA. This dynamic, 3-dimensional model renders the current situation and can be amended with additional parameters for spatial optimization, environmental and ecological fitness as well as incorporation of cultural specificities in architecture drawn from vernacular precedents. Urbanization has the strongest impact on social, economical and ecological aspects of Omani society. The model negotiates these parameters and converges towards a sustainable urban design. The current mechanism of urban development is recognized as a strong vehicle to promote and orchestrate urbanization in Oman. The proposed model does not intend to supplement the current mechanism, it rather intends to amend to it an analytic tool that could define novel guides and regulations towards sustainability. 


Winterschool Middle East

Aurel was invited to speak about the urban development of Muscat Capital Area at the Winterschool Middle East by Zahra Ali Baba and Markus Miessen in Kuwait City. GUtech's Department of Urban Planning and Architecture participated with two students attending in January 2011.

Focal point ETH Studio Basel

Aurel von Richthofen acts as focal point for ETH Studio Basel research on urbanization in Oman in March 2013. He coordinates the visit of 10 students, 4 assistants and 2 professors to Muscat, organizes a symposium and workshops with GUtech students.

Sustainable Patterns of Urbanization in Oman

Since 2011 Aurel von Richthofen is Co-Investigator on the research project entitled "Towards Sustainable Patterns of Urbanization in Oman" funded by The Research Council Oman (TRC). He is a main contributor responsible for writing the report, editing the material, leading research assistants, coordinating symposia, conferences and exhibitions.

Featured in Muscat Daily

Article featuring Aurel von Richthofen in Muscat Daily, Sept. 21st 2011: The two-day conference on Sustainable Urbanisation in Oman concluded on Tuesday with a message that there is an urgent need to conserve energy and adopt eco-friendly measures to cope with rapid urbanisation that the nation is witnessing.

Exeter Gulf Conference 2012

EXETER, Jul. 2012, Venue: Exeter Gulf Conference, Organizer: Center for Gulf Studies – university of Exeter. Title of the paper presented: “Integrated Tourism Projects and the impact of urbanization in Oman.”

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.