A week after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the designs of the unique “The Line” city, reactions continued about the possibility of implementing this project on the ground.
The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, said that the architectural image of the project was “somewhat faded” as many of its designs are older than some think.
The paper pointed out that the idea of ”The Line” is similar to a design that appeared in 1965 by American engineers Michael Graves and Peter Eisenman. Their vision included the creation of a linear tide, stretching along the East Coast (of the United States) from Boston to Washington.”
She added: “The image focused in particular on a 35 kilometer long stretch of New Jersey. Their plans called for a massive building consisting of two identical giant buildings – one for industry and the other for housing, offices and shops.”
The line is the basis of the mega-project NEOM, which includes agricultural and industrial areas, tourist attractions and an airport that connects 40 percent of the world’s cities in a journey of no more than 6 hours.
And last week, the Saudi crown prince unveiled the designs of the city “The Line” in the large Neom project in the northwest of the Kingdom.
According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the city revolves around man, and represents a leading global model that achieves sustainability and the ideal of living in harmony with nature.
Reflecting an environment free of streets, cars and emissions, the line’s designs contribute to preserving 95 percent of NEOM’s land for nature, and rely on 100 percent renewable energy to make human health and well-being an absolute priority instead of a priority for transport and infrastructure, as in traditional cities.
One of the most important specifications of The Line is that it is only 200 meters wide, 170 kilometers long and 500 meters above sea level. The city will be built on an area of no more than 34 square kilometers and will house about 9 million people, which according to “SPA” is completely unprecedented in cities of this size.
The newspaper “Haaretz” notes that the new Saudi project also reflects on the design of the floating pool from the seventies, which appeared in the book of the architect, Rem Koolhaas, (Delirious New York), which looks like a long, endless and meaningless Manhattan block.
She said: “Perhaps the most important inspiration for the new project came from the Italian Super Studio collection shown in the 1972 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, a series of images of monumental structures built on famous natural sites and also placed in New York City. itself, as a protest against contemporary architectural trends. The images of the structures were created by Super Studio, they have airtight, seamless facades that resemble The Line mirrors as perceived by the Saudis .
The paper also touched on the feasibility of building a city from scratch instead of focusing on developing the capital, Riyadh, and making it a carbon-free city.
“I don’t think (the Saudis) understand how problematic their proposal is, and I think they’re ignoring the very important and serious questions at the heart of the project,” said Eliyahu Keeler, an architect and historian who serves as the coordinator of history studies and architectural theory at the Israeli Sami Shimon College of Engineering.
He continued, “Behind it is a blind faith in the power of technology to solve humanity’s problems. These are images that fit the popular idea of what the future should be – shiny, neon-filled. They don’t even raise the question of why they are going to this place or to the desert or what kind. The society that is supposed to be there, or what kind of government it will be and who is going to build this project.”
“In the past decades, we have learned that it is difficult to create a new place from scratch,” says Keeler. “Cities built around the world and in Israel after the Second World War are doing less well than cities that have been around for much longer Modernist theories before and after the war Let’s get rid of Paris and build skyscrapers and roads, it’s useless. “
He added: “There is no reason to go and build a new city like this. Instead, effort, thought and resources should be put into figuring out how to turn Riyadh into a zero-emission and car-free city.” change,” adding, “There’s no need to start over.”
“The thinking that a new city can be built from scratch is exactly what has led to the current situation – suburban areas where people are so dependent on having their own cars where you just have to get in the car to get milk for sale,” he said. “Efforts to address the challenges of the climate crisis must focus on improving our current cities, not creating new ones.”
In the latest announcement, Mohammed bin Salman said: “When we launched “The Line”, we promised to redefine the concept of urban development by developing human-centered societies, and today “The Line” achieves the ideal of living and speaking the urgent attention to challenges facing humanity These exceptional designs illustrate The city’s internal structure is multi-layered and addresses the problems of traditional flat horizontal cities, achieving complete harmony between urban development and the preservation of nature with all its reach resources.
In a column on the “Bloomberg” agency, the writer specializing in energy and commodity affairs, David Fickling, said that “everything about the city of Neom seems fictional.”
He pointed out that NEOM’s financial statements were exaggerated. Prince Mohammed bin Salman told reporters in Jeddah this week that the first phase of the project would cost 1.2 trillion riyals ($320 billion) by 2030, half of that amount to be provided by the Public Investment Fund – Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. be provided.
By 2030, approximately 1.5 million people are expected to live in two horizontal skyscrapers known as “The Line”.
The author compares The Line to the giant Chinese real estate company Evergrande, which eventually ran into financial problems.
He said that the promises of NEOM to become the home of 10 million people remain modest before the pride of “Evergrand”, which includes investments of 12 million people.
Evergrande’s investment cash flow after the divestment has reached 605 billion yuan ($89 billion) since 2010, only about 28 percent of NEOM’s budget.
Considering that China’s income levels and construction costs have been about 40 percent of Saudi Arabia’s over the past decade, this suggests a generous Chinese budget, but this is far from reality, according to the author.
“The lesson that Saudi Arabia should take from the Evergrande is that infrastructure and property development works best when it follows people, rather than trying to lead them,” Fickling said.
“The kingdom will benefit much more from the metro networks being built in Riyadh, Mecca, Medina and Jeddah and from the long-delayed cross-country railways,” he added.