City Limits: Teams Building Cities Must Balance Residential and Commercial Needs

Novid Parsi, and PM Network

As city populations swell—and the pressure on those infrastructure systems follows suit—more project sponsors are launching ambitious initiatives to build new cities from scratch.

Existing cities combined are expected to gain 65 million people a year between 2010 and 2025. Those pressures and demands provide motivation to start anew. Since the early 2000s, hundreds of new cities have been popping up in Asia and Africa. Africa has 18 major new-city projects—five in Nigeria alone—covering more than 25 million square meters (269 million square feet) and with budgets totaling US$100 billion.

These grand ventures—such as Eko Atlantic, Nigeria; Forest City, Malaysia; Hope City, Ghana; New Cairo, Egypt; Vision City, Rwanda; and Xiongan, China—promise to provide housing, worldclass transportation, smart technology and research centers. But these megaprojects must overcome a host of challenges before they can deliver those benefits—or else end up as ghost towns.

Their project and program managers have to realize that what will make new cities successful is also what made old cities successful: neighborhoods, public spaces, arts, culture—"and a strong geographic rationale," says Rashiq Fataar, an urban strategist in Cape Town, South Africa and founder of Our Future Cities, a nonprofit that advises governments, businesses and communities on sustainable city projects. Historically…


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