Business Reporter -
MUSCAT, March 27 -
Madinat Al Irfan urban development, a signature project of wholly government-owned tourism investment vehicle Omran, fought off global competition to win the award in the Big Urban Projects category at the prestigious MIPIM AR Future Project Awards 2017.
Announced at a gala dinner in Cannes, France, last week, the development was recognised by the judges for its creative design which fuses Omani building traditions with contemporary design, as well as its holistic infrastructure strategy.
The awards, now in their 16th year, took place during MIPIM, the world’s leading real estate exhibition. With more than 200 entries from 30 countries, the awards recognise the contribution made towards the regeneration of the areas or cities in which the projects are built.
Pioneering an institutional framework for planning, development, and regulatory control, Madinat Al Irfan delivers the highest standards of urban development for Oman and the region. The project was designed to establish a new urban centre within the heart of Muscat – home to a living, working and visiting population of some 280,000. Its innovative infrastructure strategy, adhering to world-best practice, aims for significant improvements to the project’s overall sustainability performance, including 50 per cent reduction in energy demand, potable water use and car reliance.
With a clear understanding of the geography and culture that the new city will grow into, the master-plan creates a collection of compact communities and urban places structured around an existing wadi, which will become a city park featuring urban agriculture. Embracing Omani culture and generating a climate-responsive design on a large scale, buildings will frame a complex geometry of public spaces and there will be a street network embodying the qualities and informality of old cities.
Eng Abdul Wahid al Farsi, Director of External Affairs, Omran, stated, “Madinat Al Irfan is a product of an exciting ambition to establish a new urban centre in the capital Muscat, and we are delighted that this important accolade recognises our proven track record of delivering projects to a world-class standard.”
He added, “At Omran, our aim is to improve the economic and social welfare of the Sultanate through building world-class projects that safeguard the natural beauty of our environment as well as engaging the local community. By building exceptional destinations we drive the investment, growth and development of the rapidly growing tourism sector.”
British architectural firm, Allies and Morrison, renowned for designing the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, were appointed as the project’s master planner in 2014, along with Arup as engineering consultants.
Alfredo Caraballo, partner at Allies and Morrison, said, “Madinat Al Irfan has given us the opportunity to explore a series of our thoughts, ideas and long-held preoccupations on place making but now on a much larger scale – an entire city. We have relished the challenge of thinking what should be the nature of a new city in the context of rapid urbanisation, and do so in a way that is connected to its time and place while belonging to a long tradition.”
In order to achieve world-class design quality, Omran also appointed the UK’s Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) to provide a panel of experts to undertake an independent peer review of the emerging design at key stages of development.
Madinat Al Irfan was created with the aim of becoming a catalyst for urban innovation in Oman; setting new benchmarks in the region for sustainability and urban design and providing public transport while creating a magnet for business, a centre for tourism and a great place to live and work.