Kuwait's City of Silk
In Kuwait's plans for Silk City (Madinat Al Hareer), no one will ever be more than three blocks from water or gardens. A vast National Wildlife Refuge is in the works. And medical treatment along with fresh, healthy food will be accessible on foot for 80% of residents. The centerpiece of the hugely ambitious project will be the tallest building in the world, the Mubarak al Kabir Tower, at 200 stories and comprised of seven distinct "vertical neighborhoods." (Fun fact: the tower will reach to 1,001 meters, an imposing physical reference to the Arabian Nights tale.) Add to that the four main quadrants of the city: Finance City, Leisure City (I'm totally moving there), Culture City and Ecologic City, and what is ostensibly an architectural feat becomes an experiment in crafting entire ways of life. With government investment of $132 billion, London-based design firm CivicArts/Eric R. Kuhne are ready to break ground ... and continue its labors until the estimated date of completion for Silk City, 2023.
Investors in the project state that their hopes to renew Kuwait's cultural influence are highly motivational, and the idea is based on the crucial links established over a thousand years ago when Kuwait was a center on the silk trade routes. Now planning to link itself with cities like Damascus and Baghdad, stretching ultimately all the way to China, Kuwait intends to reestablish its connectivity in more than just symbolic measure.
Clearly imitative of nearby architectural playgrounds like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Silk City and all its outrageous goals does come off feeling a bit more commercial than its underlying motives might imply. They're tossing around terms like the "Arabian Riviera" and plan to incorporate such enclaves as "Film City" and multiple "pleasure facilities." Maybe it's that the intentions aren't just outrageous but highly-regimented. The planners are busy designing 28 different "lifestyle zones" specifically branded by interest (sports, film, media, etc.). While all the bells and whistles sound pretty awesome (in the true sense of the word) the overly manufactured quality of every detail -- especially the neighborhoods, oops "lifestyle zones," which force homogeneity not diversity -- make this huge community appear rather disconnected after all.
I guess we'll have to reevaluate in 2023. But judging from a fairly recent visit to Dubai, a model of speedy construction and ambitious contemporary architecture, I'd be willing to bet Silk City is operational much before then. Those oil prices don't hurt the timeline, either.