Dezeen Magazine

Urb proposes 93-kilometre cycling highway "to make Dubai the most connected city on earth"

Architecture studio Urb has proposed creating The Loop as a covered highway for cyclists and pedestrians that would wrap around Dubai.

Envisioned to encourage Dubai's three million residents to switch from cars to healthier modes of transportation, The Loop would also incorporate a hyperloop line.

"The Loop aims to make Dubai the most connected city on earth by foot or bike," said Urb chief executive officer Baharash Bagherian.

The exterior of The Loop
Urb has proposed a 93-kilometre cycling and walking highway

If built, the 93-kilometre-long structure would be encased within a glazed tube and would have a kinetic floor that would produce energy when stepped on.

Renderings of The Loop released by the studio show plants and pools of water within the snake-like structure, which would be climate-controlled.

"It will provide an enjoyable climate-controlled all-year environment, to make walking and cycling the primary mode of transport for Dubai's residents, in line with its new 20-minute city initiative," Urb told Dezeen.

The Loop rendering
The Loop would wrap around the outskirts of Dubai

According to Urb, encouraging Dubai's residents to swap cars for bikes would require a "seismic shift". Any successful initiative should therefore recognise the need for infrastructure that supports city-dwellers' needs, said the studio.

"The key challenge in Dubai is that the infrastructure and existing urban fabric is engineered primarily for the use of cars," Urb explained.

"Thus swapping cars for bikes in an existing highly-developed car-oriented city, requires a seismic shift in urban planning as well as the infrastructure required to enable that shift."

The Loop running through sandy plains
It would be climate-controlled

As a result, The Loop would connect leisure and wellness facilities such as fitness centres, hotels and sports courts. Neighbourhood pocket parks and allotments would also be nestled within the belt.

The project proposal, which is currently in the research and development stage, also includes integrated vertical farms, which the studio said could provide food security.

The inside of The Loop
Citizens would be able to travel to districts within Dubai in 20 minutes

In addition to serving as a vibrant public space, Urb envisions that The Loop would help stitch together parts of the city that became disconnected when roads were built there.

The highway could serve as a model for other car-oriented cities, the team added.

Vertical farms inside The Loop
Vertical farms are dotted throughout The Loop

"Urb aims to develop the first active mobility infrastructure of its kind anywhere in the world, with various amenities and sustainability features that will shape the future of urban mobility in Dubai and beyond," said Urb.

"Whilst cities race to upgrade their infrastructure towards more sustainable modes of transport, The Loop project in Dubai aims to create a new benchmark for the world's smartest cycling and walking infrastructure."

The highway aims to be part of a wider project to make Dubai a 20-minute city – where residents are able to access different districts within 20 minutes by foot or bicycle.

"The aim is to make cycling and walking the primary mode of transport for daily commutes for more than 80 per cent of Dubai's residents by 2040," said Urb.

A walkway inside The Loop
The pathway would provide residents with access to recreational sports

The concept is not dissimilar to 15-minute cities, which are designed to allow residents to access their daily necessities by foot or by bike within 15 minutes.

The Loop is designed to align with Dubai's 2040 urban masterplan, a strategic plan for the city to improve the quality of life for its residents over the next 20 years.

A rendering of the interior of The Loop
The structure is designed to foster community connections

Other projects set to be built in Dubai include Vertical Forest by Italian studio Stefano Boeri Architetti, a concept for a pair of skyscrapers, which would be covered in thousands of trees.

Meanwhile, architecture studio ZN Era envisioned a skyscraper called Downtown Circle, which would be built around the Burj Khalifa in downtown Dubai.

The renderings are courtesy of Urb.

More images and plans

Map of The Loop by Urb
Map of The Loop highway