The emergence of cities in the 21st century is an effect of the world becoming a global platform for countries. Ideas are no longer local or limited to nations. Countries are inviting architects and urban planners from across the world to design, redesign and develop world-class cities that can be home to citizens from across the world.

A well-designed city is a successful blend of urban planning and architecture working in a synergy that can provide a quality social, economic and ecological environment for its citizens.

These new planned cities and their innovative urban designs have the potential to improve the quality of life for their residents while putting the country on the global map:

1. Medellin, Columbia

Medellin is the second-largest city in Columbia historically ravaged by violence, drugs, mass migrations and majority population living in informal slum settlements. These social conflicts manifested themselves within the urban realm and created an unequal and underprivileged society.

Using Urban planning as a means to bring about social reform, equitable community spaces have been introduced through public projects. Improved education and transit facilities such as the Metro cable car system, community pools, parks and sports arenas demonstrate the ability of architecture and planning as an approach to enhance public life in a city.

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Electrical Staircases Image Source – ©Municipality of Medellin
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Metro Cab Cable Image Source – ©Municipality of Medellin

2. Abuja, Nigeria

Image caption – Urban Design plan for AbujaImage Source – ©

Image caption – Abuja post implementation of the Proposed Master PlanImage Source – ©

The capital city of Nigeria was transferred from Lagos to Abuja as a result of the overcrowding and congestion in the former. The goal of the proposed masterplan was to identify factors that were restraining development and to accommodate an interconnected system of social, economic and recreational amenities.

The development of the city was planned in 4 progressive phases with an effective and attractive environment in each stage. However, the improper coordination and execution of the Master Plan that caused a failure at achieving the proposed urban strategy for Abuja.

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Urban Design plan for AbujaImage Source – ©
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Urban Design plan for AbujaImage Source – ©

3. Putrajaya, Malaysia

The urban centre of Putrajaya was established as a new federal administrative centre marking the move of the Malaysian Government from Kuala Lumpur in 1993. Envisioned as an intelligent and efficient city, Putrajaya is planned to embrace the theme of a Garden City.

Planned features include large designated green areas, water bodies and waterfronts, peripheral residential precincts and a large central boulevard that acts as a spine to the city. The planning is also considerate of the commercial facilities that have been incorporated within the masterplan.

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Illustrated Master Plan Image Source – ©

4. Singapore

The city-state of Singapore is planned as a series of partially self-sufficient precincts governed by four regional centres other than the central area. This division of the region helps achieve larger goals to sustain a high-quality living.

The strategies include providing quality affordable housing, integrating green spaces, enhancement of mobility and transport services, sustaining a flourishing economy and creating opportunities and room for growth for the future generations.

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Master Plan of Singapore Image Source – ©Urban Redevelopment Authority ( URA), Singapore

5. Sejong, South Korea

Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, was plagued with challenges of overpopulation, pollution and surging housing rates by 2002. The relocation of density to an alternate urban development was proposed as a solution by urban planners and designers in 2011.

Marketed as an alternative to Seoul, Sejong offers contemporary luxury and amenities such as city-wide smart tech, solar power buildings, automated trash collection systems and electrical car charging stations that are meant to attract residents to this self-sufficient city.

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Sejong Master Plan Image Source ©
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Sejong Transport Network plan  Image Source – ©Balmori Associates

6. Brasilia, Brazil

Brasilia is the manifestation of the dream for a new capital of Brazil. Led by architect and urban planner Lucio Costa, the design for this urban utopia is the embodiment of a city ‘imbued with a certain dignity’. The city is oriented along two intersecting axes, resembling an aeroplane or soaring bird and therefore anointed as the ‘pilot plan’.

All government buildings are cited on the monumental long axis designed as striking forms of architecture by Oscar Neimeyer. The cross axis is occupied by residences for government employees known as the ‘super-quadra’.

Each super-quadra has amenities such as schools, playgrounds, shops and community spaces. However, the functionality of Brasilia has been questioned, as Costa did not consider pedestrian use as a parameter while designing the streets primarily for automobiles.

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Brasilia Master Plan Image Source ©

7. Mecca, Saudi Arabia

The hajj pilgrimage is one of the most sacred rites in Islam for any devout Muslim. Saudi Arabia experiences a surge of tourist population every year in Mecca, and the existing infrastructure in the city is unable to cope with the same.

Saudi Arabia has invited proposals from Architects and Urban Planners to provide for the density in the form of a new airport, the largest tourist hotel in the world around a sacred centre, adding bridges and platform for convenience while performing religious ceremonies and a city of 10,000 fibreglass tents for pilgrims. These urban interventions are proposed as an upgrade to the existing city fabric and designed keeping the religious tenets of Islam in mind.

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The Hajj Terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport Image Source – ©Bryan Christie Design
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100,000 Tent City  Image Source – ©Bryan Christie Design

8. Amravati, Andhra Pradesh

Amravati is the proposed capital city of Andhra Pradesh and among the pioneering smart cities of India. The master plan envisions Amravati as a city with world-class infrastructure and amenities while preserving the unique character, heritage and environmental quality of Amravati.

The city is largely divided into 9 themed parts and with a transport system that integrates Buses, Train Stations and the Metro Terminals. The city is also developed as a greenfield smart city that boasts of a 22km long riverfront along the banks of the Krishna River.

The proposal has, however, drawn flak from environmentalists and activists for their approach towards the land acquisition and violation of environmental norms.

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Amravati Zone Plan Image Source – ©
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Amravati Zone Plan Image Source – ©

9. Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan

Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) underwent a drastic expansion and reconstruction as the capital, under President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The city was subsequently renamed Nur-Sultan in his honour.

Japanese architect Kurokawa Kisho was commissioned to design the broad avenues, blue and gold streets and the presidential palace. The central planning divides the buildings into 5 areas – residential, recreational, public, engineering and transportation.

British architect Norman Foster designed the Palace of Peace and reconciliation, a 62-metre-high pyramid that includes a library and an opera house, located in the centre of the city. The most interesting aspect of this masterplan is perhaps its complex yet detailed transport network, that allows smooth journeys in and out for those travelling into the city from long distances as well as for short journeys within the city limits.

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Nur-Sultan Master Plan Image Source – ©

10. HafenCity, Hamburg

HafenCity is one of its kind urban regeneration in Hamburg, Europe. The Masterplan proposes an urban development to transport the port into a city centre that will expand by 40% in the upcoming years. The entire project area is divided into 10 districts that are independent of each other and have distinct characters in harmony with the urban environment.

Public spaces will be designed along the water edge to make the seafront more accessible. The overall planning targets a mixed-use of residential, commercial, leisure, retail and culture. The concept of the masterplan is flexible and adaptable, and will allow for constant upgrades and improvements as a part of the development process.

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HafenCity Master Plan Image Source – ©ASTOC Architects

Ami Mody is a graduate from KRVIA (Mumbai) practicing as an Architect and Interior Designer. She is a voracious reader, interested in the themes of Gender, Space and Politics and their intersection with the built form. She believes the greatest joy in life comes from travelling and a good meal.

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