Step 1: Choose a location
Before you begin, you need a spot. Deserts, undeveloped jungles and uninhabited islands are popular: you don’t want to sink your budget into detoxifying brownfield sites, bulldozing slums or fighting legal battles over ancestral land rights. Plus, very few camels attend planning meetings, still less are they capable of forming coherent objections to your masterplan for a desert metropolis.
Step 2: Ensure a reliable water supply
This may sound elementary, but consider what happened to the city of Fatehpur Sikri. The Mughal emperor Akbar commenced the construction of this walled city in 1569, to serve as the Mughal capital. Over the next 15 years, he and his lackeys built royal palaces, harems, courts, mosques and private quarters, all from locally available red sandstone. Shortly after completion, however, Akbar abandoned Fatehpur … in part because of inadequate water supplies.
Egypt’s as-yet-unnamed new capital is set to be built in the desert – a popular choice for planned cities
Step 3: Ensure a reliable money supply
Again this may sound elementary, but you don’t want to run out of liquidity halfway through building the high-speed train link to the financial quarter. There are various options available to you when it comes to securing the cash. Rawabi, denounced by some Palestinians for normalising Israeli occupation and by some Israelis for the possibility of providing a base for terrorists, has drawn a third of its $1bn (£640m) investment from the private Palestinian conglomerate Massar International, and the rest from Qutar.
Step 4: Think about jobs
If your city is to be economically sustainable, it needs jobs. Herbert Girardet, author of Creating Sustainable Cities, argues that Egypt’s planned new capital has a better chance of success than other purpose-built Egyptian cities, mainly because the vast government will be relocated there. Indeed, many of the most famous planned cities, Canberra, Abuja, Canberra, Ottawa, New Delhi – that, whatever their other shortcomings, benefited from the employment opportunities and economic uplift of being a national administrative hub.
Step 5: Do not alienate locals
Don’t do what they did in Lavasa. The first three of 100 smart cities that prime minister Narendra Modi is planning in India will be built as part of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, which the government aims will be a “global manufacturing and trading hub.
They’re planning animation and film studios, software-development companies, biotech labs, and law and architectural firms, focusing the knowledge industries at the heart of the “new India”.
Step 6: Devise a masterplan
Step 7: Integrate transport
Narendra Modi’s 100 planned cities in India all involve integrated transport with bus rapid transport (or BRT, a sort of overground metro system), suburban trains and cycle networks. Smart transport might well mean digital parking meters that text you when a parking space opens up, or real-time transport displays that give data about traffic jams, availability of buses and train services. Helsinki – admittedly not a planned city, but a good model to follow – is going so far in the integrated transport direction as to say that private cars may soon be obsolete .