Waterfront City masterplan by OMA


Office for Metropolitan Architecture have completed the masterplan for Waterfront City, a new city proposed for Dubai.

The 140,000,000 square metre development, set on an artificial square island, will be built by Dubai-based developer Nakheel.

Here's some further information from OMA:


OMA Designs City from Scratch in Dubai

The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has completed the Masterplan of Waterfront City, a city to be built from scratch by Nakheel in Dubai. Waterfront City will form a vibrant centre for the larger 140,000,000 m2 Waterfront development. Waterfront is Dubai’s largest development to date providing homes for a prospective 1.5 million new inhabitants, effectively doubling Dubai’s population and creating one million jobs.

Located against Dubai’s western border, Waterfront will occupy the prime position between Dubai as the emerging metropolitan centre of the Gulf and neighbouring Abu Dhabi. OMA’s masterplan entails a total gross floor area of 11,800,00 m2 comprising of a central island surrounded by four neighbouring districts - the Boulevard, Madinat Al Soor, the Resort and the Marina.

Dubai-based developer Nakheel commissioned OMA in early 2007 to design a high density development that was free from dependency on the car. As a solution to this, Waterfront City is designed with the density of Manhattan in mind and offers a compact solution for a modern day metropolis. Commerce, retail, culture and private accommodation are programmatically overlapped to create a lively city centre within the Waterfront development. The inclusion of a central park, large mosque area and iconic landmark attractions will enable visitors and inhabitants to enjoy a vibrant city from street level.

The central Island district is the defining element of the design of Waterfront City, surrounded by water on all sides it stands alone as a landmark itself. With a gross floor area of 7,000,000 m2 the Island is based on a grid of five streets by five streets. This creates a city on a human scale ensuring not only the ease of traffic passing through the city but also creating walkable distances between blocks.

To ensure maximum shading and climate control in the city the higher building masses are concentrated on the south side also making efficient use of wind flows for cooling. To guarantee further protection from the sun each city block is lined with arcades and planted with trees.

Each of the five districts making up Waterfront City possess their own individual character and are therefore vital for the promotion of a diverse yet unified city.

All of the surrounding areas as well as the Island are connected by a comprehensive public transport system, including Dubai’s new metro train system. Waterfront City will have a direct link to the Al Maktoum International Airport, currently under construction and set to become Dubai’s main airport hub.

With a predicted residential population of 92,000 and a working population of 310,000 people Waterfront City is set to become a lively city centre 24 hours a day.

This project is led by Reinier de Graaf and Rem Koolhaas. Past projects include Gateway City (also an entire new city development) and the Jebel al Jais Mountain Resort for the Emirate of Ras al Khaimah, as well the design for the Riga Art Museum and the development of the EU barcode.

Photographs of models by Frans Parthesius.

Images courtesy of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)

Posted on Wednesday March 12th 2008 at 3:07 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • GoranJ

    is this like a cut&paste thing? i must say it looks like you`ve taken the gateway-project of Ras Al Khaimah, and “integrated” it in to the bursting bubble of Dubai.
    i think someone should sit down, take a breake, and breathe…

  • Noviardi

    every OMA project are very interesting,

    And no doubts Dubai will be one of the greatest City of the world after every great architects has their parts in crafting the city.

  • NaRa

    Heeeeeey! cool-haas!
    who knows what they wanted you to do and how much paid for that, resulted in this schizophrenic rotated square whit some moon and eyeballs blinking around.
    At least I.M.Pei was supposed to build a postmodern tower here, now replaced with your super late modern jingles.

    and what do you mean by “gulf”? doesnt it have a name or something?

  • misshon

    “infrastructure world collaps”

  • Yaya

    Dubai sucks. Abu Dhabi too.

  • alex

    It’s gonna be funny to see them when they run out of oil in the middle of construction..

  • duncan donut

    surrounded by water, free from the dependency on the car, 5 boroughs er districts, a central park (!)…

    exactly 30 years after delirious new york has koolhaas finally made his “perfect Manhattan”?

    im guessing it wont have as many chicken and rice carts though.

  • Men playing GOD!

  • J

    This is nothing more than insane.

  • Luke

    Who could possibly think that the Death Star is suddenly kool?

  • WideGlider

    I’m for any project with a death star!

  • Arch

    OMA, OMG!


    is that florida?

  • daisydukes

    God, everything I comment I read from people about what’s happening in the ME makes me cringe. Are most of us people from western countries always so smug and condescending.
    Take a moment and really think about what’s happening over there and why these developments are happening. Centuries ago Western countries were able to build their now ‘grand’ cities – most of the time accidental and now a new region of the world is entering this phase of city creation – ridicule and superiority only makes you feel better.

  • J

    DO people think this design is good? hard to make out from comments, I hate teh death star, but hey, i can see that some people might like it, espcially middle eastern…

  • chrisp

    i am all for new development and prosperity in these areas, however it disappoints me that things cant be done more tastefully, and perhaps be given more time and freedom to resolve something truly innovative and beautiful – especially when it comes to town planning.
    i feel the priority here is so often about making statements, rather than taking advantage of the rare opportunities which exist currently in Dubai to generate something that will be celebrated in the decades to come.

  • Rem, Should rethink there designs, they can’t just copy and paste and sell. The sad thing that “Mr Rem” same as most westerners negatively criticize the Middle Eastern development, and the petrol based development. Although whenever they got a chance, they are the first to advocate it. These people are just so subjective; they are bug machines with huge PR infrastructure.

  • I look at the big round building and think “Deathstar” and just hear a deep raspy breath in take… but that said it deffinatly looks cool.

  • ty wenzel

    Just to make it clear to those who seem sure that oil paid for this, it did not. Dubai makes only 6% of its revenue from oil (most of it is from real estate and tourism). In fact, from what I have read so far, they are preparing for the world to phase out of oil – pretty smart, I think. It’s the countries that don’t do something in terms of offering an export or something else of interest to the world, that will be left high-and-dry when the world turns green and out of oil.

    In any case, Dubai may look cool, but its politics and laws are so barbaric and insane that you couldn’t pay me to go there. Whatever you do, according to what I’ve read, do NOT even take over-the-counter drugs or they will bust you for drugs and lock you up for years without a trial. Feel free to google the wonderful world of Dubai law to see what I mean.

    And until this sort of thing is modernized as are the buildings and streets, a Westerner would be crazy to go there.

  • a

    mmmm .. well do i see word saying NO?? in arabic?.. what is this.. and the lunar crescent.. and actually the moon becominga volume.. e77em.. thats sad..

    thats what petrol buys.. but at the end its better than the pearl of qatar or even the nakheel project just beside this.. at least they didnt design a whole arabic poet verse in the water..but again where is the attitude.. i mean the sqaure thing and the grid is quiet good.. u think delirious new york but when u look in2 this sqaure.. what do u c except the word No??(am i right or im reading it wrong)… and bunch of lunar crescents all over..??? whats happening to the world..

    ps: to J i am middle eastern and i didn tlike this.. and actually alot of meadle eastern arent fans of this.. you are just seeing a vision (s) of a rich sheikh (s) who has power and money and well hes getting his dream come true by paying the “westerners”‘as well as the most famous architects to do his dreams…

  • Vince B

    Hehe, the only difference i see here with other OMA projects is the accent in the laught.
    Usually OMA’s humor is ironic and defies the law of common architecture.
    This time I hear sarcasm.

  • bauster

    form is not of any intrest there anymore, seems like you can sell anything there anymore. a rectangular island with some kind of a deathstar sphere on the edge.
    have really seen better from oma.
    i get the impresion every top architect trying to build there stumbles over his own feet.
    people wake up. it’s not just about cash after all…..

  • Crazy stuff..

    I spotted some inconsitencies…

    “Waterfront is Dubai’s largest development to date providing homes for a prospective 1.5 million new inhabitants, effectively doubling Dubai’s population and creating one million jobs.”


    “With a predicted residential population of 92,000 and a working population of 310,000 people Waterfront City is set to become a lively city centre 24 hours a day.”


  • khalid

    goodbye culture.. hello disaster.

  • look guys….we can aford it…so we are doing it….why you are so ungry about it….i suggest instead of being so negative….work harder and try to compete with us….. before it is too late for you….or/and may be participate in the historical moment we are living daily in dubai… regarding OMA’s recent project…. i think it’s very kool!


  • Nigel Eckersall

    Yep,. it looks liek a mess.. but think about the faceless towers in downtown LA.. think about the Natwest Tower in London or Undershaft,.. boring yes.. but pure too….

    What we are doing in Dubai is building what teh future of the ME needs. Security, peace and stable economies.

    OK Nakheel have built a load of c*ap here,.. and have really missed an opportunity to make an amazing site, but that is because the palm will be great, the business district will be functional,.. the outer squares however will be built by Indian companies who just want to make a mint and dont give a monkeys about design, quality or town planning..

    OK we found the problem.. DUBAI has NO Town Planning. Try living here,. each developer has different height kerbs, sand between each amazing building and if you are lucky,.. your car park will have a road to it and not a fence in the way.. why.. Indians are building Dubai who simply dont give a DAMN about anything but making the rest of the world as messy as India…?

  • Kunal

    Mr Nigel Eckersall this space here is open for design debate. Any sort of political debate could be some where else. You know where !


  • Architecture Nowadays…

    The Dubaian,

    What frightens me is what you just said: You can do it so you do it!

    Is that the only reason you’re doing it?

    I can only hope you’re doing it right, because you’re doing it a lot. I also hope you don’t mark that important “historical moment” badly.

    It’s a great oportunity, are you going to miss it?

  • yulisri

    the dubaina say

    look guys….we can aford it…so we are doing it….why you are so ungry about it….i suggest instead of being so negative….work harder and try to compete with us….. before it is too late for you….or/and may be participate in the historical moment we are living daily in dubai… regarding OMA’s recent project…. i think it’s very kool!


    than i say

    there is word say,

    doomsday never happening till the desert close by green carpet,,
    is that the beginning,,


  • floyd landis

    So now Rem has Photoshop. Here’s to your publicist. You obviously didn’t get where you are with talent.

  • WriterGuy

    Wondering where the money is coming from? Dubai is the Switzerland of the Middle East, and the Sheiks are funneling billions out of their own countries and laundering it through these giant constructions projects.

    Think organized crime, but on a planet-wide scale.

  • poppins

    how many icons can you fit along one coast..well many according to rem, and theres never enough. you build what the client wants.. so rather than having a dig at oma, don’t. they cleverly manage to fit their wit and intelligence into any brief. always re-analysing, never judging. lets just see how many people ‘copy-paste’ these ideas. atleast rem admits it when he does it, and more importantly, its his OWN ideas that he re-invents…the only difference is, is that this time he doesn’t want to become bankcrupt whilst doing so

  • Bob Foley

    This is the worst master plan that I’ve ever seen. Dubai has so much money to spend and I am very sad that will spend it in this project. I think we really need a creative revolution in master plan design. An architecture that would takes into consideration nature, society and cutting edge tech with a strong innovative design.

    Even my son that is 8 years old has designed a more beautiful city in sincity than this square-shaped ugly island in Dubai waterfront project.

  • Nico

    to quote from the Nahkeel website:

    “Learning well from the past, Nakheel decided to create history: compressing centuries of social progression into (estimated project duration)”

    I have never laughed so hard in my life, not a laughter of humor, rather the laughter the is the only reaction possible for a mind faced with the horror of the sublime absurd.

  • Bruno von Dunkel

    This megaproject seems to outrace all other planned new communities, but it’s a must! Already 50 percent of world’s people are living in cities, there will be sure 70 percent or more within some decades. Where shall all this mass of bodies be stapled? They don’t want to stay in slums any longer, they have the right in participation of better living. Not only architects and project manager should design this new mankind aggregation places, also social workers, non comercial specialists, and the “victim” himself must have the chance, to be involved in the planning and realization process. Dubai is a laboratory, let’s take it for all mankind!

  • wbaden

    pimp new world

  • diego

    all westerns that critisize this projects just od it out of jelousy, the states has never even dreaming of becoming anything near this, no president of the states has ever even imagine doing somethig this great, new york, denver,La, vegas, paris rome, anything else is nothing, completly meaningless, these people know what money is for, to build great things, rather than the states that since their early history have spent it all on invading poor countries and bombing defenceless little nation, well learn from this people and stop judging it only makes you look pathetic the wholle world knows it, and we all laugh at youm from pole to pole

  • Come on guys, don’t waste your talent on this. If you’re not agree with this “future designs policy” (I’m not) then fight for that. Let’s make a real change. If this is what big corporations, annonymous persons do, then show to everyone what YOU think it should be done!
    Life is the only God we should worship, and as we all know it have strange ways to show its presence. If this is outrageous (I’m truly convinced it is) then it will perish. But don’t wait for it. Make something. Do your homework.
    Here’s my e-mail: nervegnaar@gmail.com. I am 24 years-old, architect and dreamer till I die. I will do everything I can to make those dreams come to life. If you think the same way as me and you need someone who thinks as you then here I am.
    Good luck everyone and let’s work for a better future.
    Dubai will collapse, one way or another, and we all know it.
    OMA (Oh My Ass!)

  • dean

    SHUT UP IGNORANT W@NKERS…change your nappies, do some work of your own (I wonder if you have the capacity) and LEARN before being so judgmental and negative.

  • Dean

    It is funny, I’ve heard over and over again people criticize Dubai and what happens over there, yet most people criticizing were born and live in other cities where there are HUGE anomalies and problems…do they do anything about bringing solutions to their own cities? have they got the experience, knowledge and influence to get involved and do something about it? Sounds like there are a lot of students barking and making a lot of useless noise. Get knowledge, experience and be humble. Those who criticize are always the first ones to pull their pants down and betray their own words when the heat is on. I have seen it myself in Dubai and in other glorified western cities.

  • shahnaz

    better feed hungry children all around the world. sick project!

  • pablo from chile

    ill give my opinion after i see the project alive, that way we can understand if the project works or its just y reborn of the modern days perfect city like brazilia etc…

    they thought it would work but know we know that if a city has no history the people that live there turn a little crazy.

    hope koolhass pools it off, just wait and see.