With a rapidly increasing population, the State of Qatar, located on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, is growing as never before. In response to the need for more housing, the smart and sustainable city of Lusail is rising like an oasis in the desert.
Some 50,000 years ago, this harsh environment, where hot desert winds meet the ocean, was the home of nomads. A lot has happened since then, and now Qatar is a prosperous hub of commerce and cultural exchange in the Middle East, with exceptional economic growth and major advances in human and social development.
As part of the country’s ‘Vision 2030’, the entirely new city of Lusail – designed to support 250,000 residents – is now under construction. Located on the coast in the capital city Doha’s northern development corridor, it will cover about 20% of Qatar’s growing population.
With a new take on sustainability in architecture, infrastructure and construction, the aim is to set an example of how future cities in the Middle East will be built.
Lusail’s head architect Abdulrahman Al-Ishaq says: “Basically, we are building a city from scratch. We started this project with 38 square kilometers of desert landscape and sea. Although Lusail is a new city, it is also regarded as an extension of Doha. Sustainability was always the vision of Lusail, so we designed and planned it that way. This minimizes the environmental footprint significantly and creates the groundwork for a sustainable legacy. It’s a big responsibility for us as future generations of Qatar will question if we did it correctly when we had a chance to do it.”
Sustainability was always the vision of Lusail, so we designed and planned it that way. This minimizes the environmental footprint significantly and creates the groundwork for a sustainable legacy.Head architect, Lusail City
A major part of what makes Lusail a smart city is its sustainable facilities and utilities. One important utility is the district cooling system, whereby four district stations and 175km of piping make it one of the largest central cooling systems in the world. In numbers, this will save an estimated 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Developers usually include several air-conditioning units in their designs to cool buildings. With the district cooling system, they only need to connect a duct system, because the cooling system provides cool air and cool water centrally. This greatly limits the harmful side effects on the ozone layer that would otherwise be experienced when using many small electrical units, Al-Ishaq explains.
Another unique feature in Lusail is the 24km waste pipe network that has been laid underneath the city. Human waste is easily disposed of through this advanced and highly efficient network of pneumatic or vacuum tubes.
To reduce traffic from garbage trucks in the densely populated areas, this network offers a new and innovative way of disposing of waste. The pipe network is connected to the buildings, which then goes directly to the garbage and recycling treatment plants outside the city. “This saves about 70 tonnes of waste per day,” says Al-Ishaq.
The hot summers and dry, unforgiving desert climate makes water a scarce resource. Nothing can go to waste, not even the sewage. Treatment plants receive the sewage produced in Lusail and reuse it in the district cooling system. It is then returned to the buildings as cool air or water. It is also used to water the city's open green spaces and irrigate the surrounding landscape.
In 2009, the first excavators started to shape the ground on which the 21st century smart city will rest. Scheduled to be finished in 2019, the work goes on day and night to reach the deadline. Some 45,000 workers are on site each day, a joint operation that requires planning, trustworthy equipment and good management.
Volvo construction equipment has played a big part in the project, too – during certain phases of the work, more than 150 Volvo machines were on site at the same time, sometimes 24 hours a day based on a three-shift schedule.
“We are just one of hundreds of companies involved in working in Lusail, which requires good management. At the beginning of this project, we were using 32 machines, but now, having reached the final stages, 22 or 23 machines are operating all the time. We have several ongoing projects in different areas of Qatar, but the Lusail area should be an example of how future development should be conducted,” says Hadi Kaii, machine owner and Volvo CE customer at EIB Qatar.
Kaii’s crew is currently working on a site in the heart of Lusail, clearing room for the foundations of buildings and underground tunnels. However, digging through the porous sandstone is not a walk in the park. The walls cave in easily, so the excavators must be equipped with breakers to prevent them from sliding. Being situated close to the Persian Gulf also makes construction difficult since groundwater constantly floods the holes with sea water. Although these factors pose risks on the construction site, the intense heat is the toughest challenge.
In the summer, temperatures can rise above 50°C. To be able to work, all excavators must be equipped with air-conditioning units to ensure the operators are not at risk of heatstroke while operating heavy machinery, and to avoid putting lives at risk. “Working in this climate also requires keeping hydrated and regularly taking breaks to prevent fatigue,” says Kaii, who makes sure safety procedures are followed accordingly.
Lusail will not only become a new city, but it also means a new mentality and lifestyle for its residents. A light-rail network, underground pedestrian tunnels and even a water-taxi system will reduce the use of cars for commuting residents. As part of Qatar’s Vision 2030, the goal is to combine modern life with traditional values and culture.
“We encourage people to walk in Lusail by creating this healthier, cleaner environment – a city where you can live, work and play at the same time. The challenge here is basically to try to bring people together in this new lifestyle. We are trying to be a realistic sustainable city, something that we aspire to and hope to repeat and implement in other places,” concludes Al-Ishaq.
250,000 new residents
The state of Qatar’s ”Vision 2030” includes the construction of an entirely new city. Lusail is considered to be part of the northern development corridor of Doha and will account for about 20 per cent of Qatar’s growth in population.
Annual saving of 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions
Lusail will be equipped with one of the world’s largest central cooling systems. With 175 kilometres of piping, and for centrally located stations, cool air and water will be supplied to the centrally located buildings in the city, greatly limiting the use of smaller AC units.
24 kilometres of waste pipes
A unique feature of Lusail is the automated waste disposal system. Waste is conveyed through this advanced and highly efficient network of pneumatic pipes to recycling and treatment plants outside the city. Around 70 tonnes of waste that would otherwise have been transported by road is handled each day.
240 Volvo machines on site
Volvo EC210B, Volvo SD110, Volvo EC250D, Volvo EC210B, Volvo EC300D, Volvo G970, Volvo EC220D, Volvo EC460B, Volvo EC290B, Volvo EC240B, Volvo EC350D, Volvo EC360D, Volvo A40D, Volvo L120F, Volvo L150F, Volvo L150G, Volvo L150E.