IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

How to Build a Sandcastle: An Analysis of the Genesis and Development of Masdar City


  • Federico Cugurullo


Fuelled by an increasing diffusion of "green-consciousness" in urban politics, the eco-city has recently gained momentum. In the last decade, several governments from different areas of the world have approved plans for the construction of new master-planned urban developments aiming to find a balance with nature. The eco-city phenomenon is inscribed in a critical spatio-temporal context and its effects will arguably have a strong influence on our near future. Today, cities drain most of the global resources, have a major impact on the environment, and attract an increasing percentage of the world's population. Should the mainstream projections on 2050 prove to be correct, what we build now is and will be of primary importance. Hence, it is time to bring our current paradigms into question. This paper acknowledges the popularity that the eco-city has achieved in planning and mainstream discourses on sustainable development and aims to develop an understanding of the phenomenon on the basis of empirical analysis. More specifically, the paper focuses on the nexus between eco-cities and sustainability ideology to show how the latter is understood and applied in the development of new settlements. Using Masdar City as a case study, the three canonic dimensions of sustainability: the economic, the social, and the environmental, are here explored, and their respective weight evaluated. Ultimately, it will be shown how the foundations of the eco-city are strongly grounded in economic concerns and how the social and environmental aspects form only a layer aiming to hide the real nature of the phenomenon.

Suggested Citation

  • Federico Cugurullo, 2013. "How to Build a Sandcastle: An Analysis of the Genesis and Development of Masdar City," Journal of Urban Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(1), pages 23-37, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:cjutxx:v:20:y:2013:i:1:p:23-37
    DOI: 10.1080/10630732.2012.735105

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Federico Caprotti & Cecilia Springer & Nichola Harmer, 2015. "‘Eco’ For Whom? Envisioning Eco-urbanism in the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city, China," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(3), pages 495-517, May.
    2. Premalatha, M. & Tauseef, S.M. & Abbasi, Tasneem & Abbasi, S.A., 2013. "The promise and the performance of the world's first two zero carbon eco-cities," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 660-669.
    3. Bulu, Melih, 2014. "Upgrading a city via technology," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 63-67.
    4. repec:taf:cjutxx:v:24:y:2017:i:1:p:47-74 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Changjie Zhan & Martin de Jong, 2017. "Financing Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City: What Lessons Can Be Drawn for Other Large-Scale Sustainable City-Projects?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(2), pages 1-17, February.
    6. Lee, Susan E. & Braithwaite, Peter & Leach, Joanne M. & Rogers, Chris D.F., 2016. "A comparison of energy systems in Birmingham, UK, with Masdar City, an embryonic city in Abu Dhabi Emirate," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 1299-1309.
    7. Yigitcanlar, Tan & Lee, Sang Ho, 2014. "Korean ubiquitous-eco-city: A smart-sustainable urban form or a branding hoax?," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 100-114.
    8. Gibbs, David & O'Neill, Kirstie, 2017. "Future green economies and regional development: a research agenda," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 68392, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:12:p:2317-:d:122794 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:12:p:2311-:d:123073 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:cjutxx:v:20:y:2013:i:1:p:23-37. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.