Harvard Architect Plans Green City in Pakistan

Work started today to build a 21st Century eco-friendly model city about 50 km north east of downtown Karachi, Pakistan.

Named DHA City Karachi or DCK, the project has been planned by Doxiadis and Osmani Associates along with Professor Spiro Pollalis as its chief planner on an 11,640 acre rural site. Constantine Doxiadis (1914-1975) was a Greek architect and urban planner who planned Pakistan's capital Islamabad and several Karachi communities, including Korangi, Landhi and New Karachi, in 1960s. Pollalis, also of Greek ancestry, is a professor of design, technology and management at the Harvard Design School in Cambridge, Mass.



The DCK masterplan envisions a self-contained sustainable city with 50,000 residential and commercial lots, healthcare and education facilities, theme parks, a convention center, informal and formal sports and recreational facilities and resorts, retail and restaurants, along with all necessary community facilities such as theaters and civic centers.

At the heart of the new city lies the City Gateway and Downtown district that house the Central Business, Culture & Arts, Education, Central Market and Mixed-use Sub Districts. Careful consideration has been given to the distribution of land uses within this area in order to provide a vital economic and cultural heart that will support the city as it grows.

The downtown district will be defined by an automobile-free pedestrian zone with tree-lined walking paths, landscaping, water features, and piazza’s. The idea is to encourage pedestrian movement to improve the quality of life for the downtown employees, visitors and residents. An efficient public transportation system will help support this.

Based on the latest research done under Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, sustainable design principles have been implemented across the entire community. A strategy has been used to maintain the ecological integrity of the site through the preservation and incorporation of prominent natural features that are integrated as creeks, green fingers and wind corridors, according to e-architect.com.

There's great emphasis on energy, waste and water management throughout the plan. There will be passive cooling and shades to reduce the need for air-conditioning in summers, extensive use of renewable energy from wind, solar and biomass, and energy-efficient LED lighting. There will be storm water collection through natural drains into lakes, and the community bylaws will require waste recycling as well as the use of grey water to irrigate drought-resistant native plants and shrubs.

DCK is an ambitious but necessary effort to promote eco-friendly and sustainable urban development as Pakistan undergoes rapid urbanization. But the past experience has shown that the actual implementation of such a plan will be quite challenging without the cooperation of its residents.

An even bigger challenge is the uncontrolled expansion of big cities like Karachi which are drawing more and more rural migrants every day without building appropriate new low-cost legal housing and infrastructure for them. The result is the mushroom growth of illegal settlements created by unscrupulous land-grabbing politicians and their cronies who profit from it. In the absence of official urban planning to settle migrant laborers, a burgeoning informal industry has emerged to fill the vacuum to build what are described as "Self-service Levittowns" by an American journalist Steve Inskeep in his 2011 book about Karachi titled "Instant City". With the active connivance of corrupt local police and other government officials and protected by politicians, the so-called "land mafias" grab and sell large swathes of vacant government land, subdivide it into plots, build shoddy roads and pilfered service connections for gas, water and electricity.

Here's how Inskeep describes one such illegal settlement in areas opened up and made accessible by a new expressway called "Northern Bypass":

"My driver steered the car to a section known as Tasier Town, which stood within a couple of miles of the new highway. It was in the farther northeastern reaches of the city, a bit farther than Doxoiadis's "ruined" old suburb in North Karachi. We stopped in a settled area to ask directions, and were pointed down a two-lane road. A market appeared to the right. A wide expanse of land stretched off to the left. Someone had posted a little sign on a little roadside building there, 2007 order from the High Court of Sindh directing that nothing should be built on that property. Behind it, on the vacant land, we saw homes under construction.....The local Home Depot was called a thalla, and Wahab, the boss of it, was thallawala. Like his workers-a so many newcomers to Karachi-he was a Pashtun from Pakistan's war-torn far northwest. On his lot, he sold most of the basic materials to make a simple house. Concrete blocks and roofing materials were cheap. Human beings were even cheaper. Wahab's laborers lived under a thatched roof near the concrete mixer.

Wahab said that there were certain expenses. Police sometimes came by and declared themselves to be shocked-shocked-that illegal construction was underway. The cops could not possibly overlook such an obvious violation unless they were paid.......I said goodbye to Wahab and went back into the illegal development, along narrow and straight dirt lane. Little ridges of dirt marked out the future home lots on either side. I chatted with several men who were laying PVC pipe in a trench, building a sewer line that would dump into the seasonal stream....Who was paying the men to dig the sewers? "A rich man", was all one said."


While Defense Housing Association (DHA) is known for developing upscale communities in major cities, Pakistani military governments have also taken low-cost initiatives to house the poor beginning with the urban planning and development of Landhi, Korangi and New Karachi in 1960s. Unfortunately, there has been little interest on a similar scale by the civilian governments to follow through on their promises of roti, kapra aur makan (food, clothing and shelter) for the poor.

Even though boosting legal housing construction in planned communities offers tremendous potential to stimulate and grow the formal economy, it is not being taken seriously today. It's much more lucrative for the politicians and bureaucrats to continue the current system of illegal settlements.



While critics jump at every opportunity to lambaste the Pakistani military for its various business enterprises, they pay no attention to the fact that Pakistan's economy has also been managed significantly better under military rule. It's not just the venality of the politicians, but also their gross incompetence that gets in the way. One need only look at the differences between Cantonments and civilian communities in South Asia to get a sense of who provides more competent governance.

Prof Anatol Lieven in his book "Pakistan: A Hard Country", describes Pakistan Army as follows:

"For the military, the image of paradise is the cantonment, with its clean, swept, neatly signposted streets dotted with antique, gleaming artillery pieces, and shaded trees....In the poorer parts of Pakistan, the contrast with civilian institutions-including those of government-is that between developed and the barely developed worlds....In the military headquarters, every staff officer has a computer. In the government offices, most ministers do not (and in many cases would not know how to use it if they did). "

British legacy of competence lives on in the Indian military as well. Here's a similar excerpt from a piece by Indian journalist Vir Sanghvi describing Indian military:

".... the (Indian) army sometimes appears to live in a state within a state. Visit a cantonment and you will be struck by the contrast with the civilian part of the town or city where it is located. The roads will be broad and well-maintained, the buildings will be freshly painted, the surroundings will be clean, and an air of good manners and civility will prevail. Visit an army town (Wellington, for instance) and the contrast will be even more striking. The order and cleanliness of the cantonments serves as a contrast to the chaos and filth of modern India."

I welcome the DCK plan with the hope that the green city will serve as a model for the 21st century and inspire private-sector developers to build similar project in the future.

Here's a video describing the project:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Housing Construction & Economy in Pakistan

Emaar Crescent Bay Project in Karachi

Pakistan Military Starts Manufacturing Tablet PCs

Military's Role in Pakistan's Industrialization

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

Pakistan's Defense Industry Goes High-Tech

Pakistan Launches UAV Production Line at Kamra

DHA City Karachi Report

Incompetence Worse Than Corruption

Food, Clothing & Shelter for All

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of a Huffington Post article on sustainable cities in Pakistan:

Thinking the concept of sustainable cities a dream in Pakistan, a Harvard architect has, however initiated an eco-friendly model city project, about 50 kilometers in north east of Karachi. Working on an 11,640 acre rural site, the project "DHA Karachi City" (DKC) will accommodate 50, 000 residential and commercial lots along with other facilities in eco-friendly manner. Building in compatibility with nature, the project would encourage combination of an efficient transportation system, clean energy supply and tree-lined walking paths for a pedestrian zone to maintain a healthy environment.

However, achieving sustainability would require some extra efforts to deal with weather extremes which are becoming a "new normal," even though there is nothing normal about it. Despite our small contribution to global environmental pollution, Pakistan stands as one of the most vulnerable countries to global warming. Karachi, for example, remains at risks of severe cyclones and sea level rise. The sustainable city concept would thus require good planning and strategies to protect its citizen from natural disasters.

So why take the extra effort? A new report from IPCC reveals that damages due to weather related disasters cost our world $80 billion every year. In Pakistan, the 2010 and 2011 floods are real life examples which put one fifth of the country land underwater with more than 20 million people affected. Sustainability in this way would mean a counter system to be in place.

We have a history of unexpected weather extremes in Pakistan. In 1992, there was flooding in Jhelum River. In 1996, Lahore city faced severe urban storm due to 500 mm rainfall in 24 hours. In 1999, a severe cyclone hit the coastal areas of Pakistan. 1998-2001 was the period of worst drought, particularly in Baluchistan province. In 2001, Islamabad city had 621mm rainfall in 10 hours, causing historical flooding in the twin cities. In July 2003, flash flooding affected hundreds of villages in Lower Sindh province. The 2005 heavy rains in Baluchistan, May 2010, record heat temperature, heavy downpours, and flooding of 2010 and 2011, are unforgettable events.

In this "new normal," efforts to create sustainable cities in Pakistan would not only be vital but also tireless efforts by the government and citizen of Pakistan would be needed to make it happen. Pakistan should learn from examples of different cities in the world which are on the track to become sustainable cities.

Scientists predict Chicago will face an 80-160% increase in days with 2.5 inches or more of precipitation by the end of the century. The city has over 55 acres of permeable pavement and more than 100 green alleys throughout the city to prevent urban flooding. Miami, for example, is vulnerable to sea level rise in the United States. Miami has accelerated restoration of vulnerable coastal areas and working on modification of vulnerable roadways to avoid homes and highways from flooding. Sydney is on its way to become a sustainable and carbon neutral green city by 2030.

The Karachi DKC project would also construct natural drains to collect rain/storm water into a lake for water recycling and its re-use for plantation and drought resistant native plants. In addition, the project would use wind, solar and biomass energy along with energy efficient LED lights.

Sustainable cities would be an ambitious plan in Pakistan. However, such initiatives are becoming vital needs to promote eco-friendly sustainable cities, which will not only provide healthy living spaces for their citizens but also will help them protect from weather extremes.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/asif-iqbal/sustainable-cities-in-pak_b_1400446.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Nation story on awards for Bahria Town developments in Pakistan:

Bahria Town has won five highly prestigious awards under various categories in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the award ceremony for “Asia Pacific International Property Awards 2012-13”, the world’s most prestigious competition recognised as the highest standard of excellence throughout the global industry. Bahria Town was the only property developer from Pakistan to win the prestigious property awards. Out of the five accolades two received were in the “Five Star” category whilst the other three were ranked as “Highly Commended”, another great achievement and proud moment Bahria Town earns for Pakistan. The awards are a sure proof that Bahria Town standards are at par with the global standards, says a press release. Speaking on the achievement, Malik Riaz Hussain, Chairman Bahria Town, said “This is an extremely proud moment for not only Bahria Town but the entire nation. We are honored to be a part of a historical moment in real estate sector of Pakistan. The accolades are a testament of the exceptional standards maintained in all our developments. We will Inshallah continue to deliver world class projects exceeding everyone’s expectations.”

Bahria Golf City Islamabad triumphed with two Five Star honors. It won the “Best Five Star Golf Development” award for the master planning and provision of complete international standard facilities and amenities along with the 18-hole USGA standard golf course. While the Sheraton Golf & Country Club in Bahria Golf City won for “Best Five Star Leisure Architecture”. Bahria Golf City Islamabad is a branded golf resort community with Sheraton Hotel, villas, apartments and plots to be launched soon.

Bahria Town’s first project in Karachi, Bahria Town Icon, also to be Pakistan’s tallest high-rise building was ranked ”Highly Commended High-rise Architecture”. Green Valley, Pakistan’s first Premium Supermarket, also a project of Bahria Town with its flagship store at the Mall of Lahore, won a “Highly Commended Retail Interior” award for its outstanding retail environment.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/20-May-2012/bahria-town-puts-pakistan-on-global-real-estate-map
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Daily Beast article on Bahria Town gated communities in Pakistan:

This unlikely playground for wealthy Muslims is the vision of Khan's boss and father-in-law, Malik Riaz Hussain, a 59-year-old billionaire Pakistani contractor. Set between the capital Islamabad and its sister city Rawalpindi, Bahria Town is the "masterpiece" of his 40-year career, a $6 billion project he has funded solo to avoid having to deal with outside investors. Its nine phases, too vast to fully appreciate without standing on one of the plateaus that overlook them, will one day mesh together into a planned residential city for 1 million people. The project broke ground in 1996, and already, many of the 50,000 luxury properties in the development are owned by wealthy Pakistan expatriates who swooped into Bahria Town after 9/11 to buy second homes amid fears they would be driven out of places like London, New York and Los Angeles. Equally important was the security and serenity that Bahria Town provides, which drew Pakistan expats and a smattering of wealthy Arab Muslims away from places like Dubai.

The complex offers amenities (24-hour armed security, schools, hospitals, a fire department, retail shopping, restaurants and entertainment centers) that go above and beyond those in many of the gated communities that have become so popular in countries from the United States to Brazil. Given the nation's security issues, it's especially easy to understand why the rich here want to cloister themselves. Rival Pakistani developers, including one owned by the military, have begun copying Hussain's vision, constructing their own gated communities in the suburbs of major Pakistani cities such as Karachi. Hussain himself is developing a second such site in Lahore, where former prime minister Nawaz Sharif already lives in a gated community called Model Town.

Hussain's original inspiration for the mega-community came from the pre-planned town of Reston, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. Materials and design inspiration have been imported from everywhere. In the center of roundabouts sit giant Spanish fountains costing $500,000 a pop; the main streets are lined with palm trees brought in from Thailand; grass for the local golf course comes from the U.S. state of Georgia; the education expert for the 1,100-acre university being built is from Seattle. "When I see America, when I see Britain, when I see Turkey, when I see Malaysia," Hussain says, "the only thing I think is, 'Why not Pakistan?' "

This is Hussain's key notion—that Bahria Town is a world away from Taliban and Qaeda militants, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and weekly suicide bombings. "This is the real Pakistan," Hussain told NEWSWEEK.


http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/02/23/safe-behind-their-walls.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an LA Times story on gated communities in Pakistan:

Reporting from Rawalpindi, Pakistan — The houses and manicured lawns slope up the artificial hill edged by unbroken sidewalks and white picket fences, as children play and residents exchange pleasantries.

This sprawling subdivision called Bahria Town — "Come home to exclusivity," it boasts — operates its own garbage trucks, schools, firehouse, mosques, water supply and rapid-response force — a kind of functioning state within a nonfunctioning one. And all supplied without the bribes you'd pay on the outside, residents say.

"I like living here," said Abdul Rashid, a sixtysomething retired government worker. "It's like you're in a little protected country — tidy, utilities work, the family can relax. If there's any problem, you just ring up security."

The jarring presence of a middle- and upper-class retreat in this increasingly violent nation has been paved, in part, by the involvement of the country's powerful military. Benefiting from laws put in place during British Empire days to reward friendly armies and militias with land grants, the military now controls about 12% of Pakistani state land, by some accounts. And its privileged position allows it to partner with and otherwise route valuable tracts to favored developers.

Bahria Town and its partner, the military-run developer Defense Housing Authority, occupy twice as much land as Rawalpindi, the garrison city 30 minutes from the capital, Islamabad.

In the posh Safari Villas subdivision, past Sunset Avenue and College Road, Mohammad Javed, 69, surveys his pocket garden before heading into his three-bedroom corner house with a beige sofa ensemble and Samsung flat-screen TV. Houses in the neighborhood run from $25,000 to $60,000, well out of reach of most Pakistanis.

Bahria Town has been a hit not only with moneyed Pakistanis but also with returnees. Javed, who owned a gas station in Canada before retiring, hopes to replicate his North American lifestyle. Bahria's protective walls bring security, he said, although he still won't let his grown children visit lest something bad happen beyond its confines. "We meet in Thailand or Canada," he said.
-------
"No one besides the military has such access," she said. Bahria Town advertised on a recent Sunday for retired major generals and lieutenant generals to fill positions at the company, Siddiqa said: "These are his keys" to greater access.

But for resident and food industry entrepreneur Shaheryar Eqbal, these are minor issues relative to what Bahria Town delivers.

"The government should take these communities as a model and replicate them," he said. "The army already has a joint venture with Bahria Town. Things work. Pakistan must get through this terrorism phase, but this could really be the future."


http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/06/world/la-fg-pakistan-gated-communities-20111007
Riaz Haq said…
Here's News story on gated communities in Karachi:

KARACHI: Nestled between Safari Park and apartment complexes that define Gulistan-e-Jauhar; lies the KDA Overseas Housing Society. Getting inside the securely guarded compound means offers a glimpse into a lifestyle very different from the crime infested areas that surround the society.

Children are seen riding merrily on their bikes with no adult supervision, while families and individuals can enjoy a peaceful evening along tree covered lanes.

It’s a scene that is at odds with what goes on outside. In general, Jauhar – as it’s called – remains crime ridden and violence prone. Most residents wouldn’t dream of a walk on their own, let alone with families. Increasingly, those who can afford it are moving to safer locales – the overseas society amongst them.

It’s a trend that’s increasing across the city. Gated communities in Karachi have increased by at least 20 percent due to the volatile law and order situation.

The rising threats of kidnapping for ransom and extortion are also major reasons that citizens prefer to live in barred streets.

However, as supply remains limited, gated communities tend to be expensive. Aqeel Karim Dhedi, Chairman of AKD Group, said peole prefer Clifton and Defence due to stability in rental and sale prices.

Dhedi said gated communities have better security arrangements. No outsiders are allowed to enter without reference from residents. This enables residents to enjoy a peaceful environment with their families. Children can move around without any fear. He added that new gated communities are offering a variety of facilities including sports complex, parks, health club, and play grounds, super markets, mosques, schools, shopping arcades, health centers and much more.

Besides the luxuries, another reason to move into a gated community is that it reduces the maintenance cost for security, sanitation, and other general utilities as a fixed monthly charge. The same is much higher in case of a normal residence. For example the maintenance cost in Creek Vista apartment is Rs.10,500 with additional charges for generator and water.

But it’s the new upcoming projects - apartments and houses that redefine the elite urban living experience- that are gated communities in the real sense. Apartment complexes include high speed and personal elevators, servant quarters and backup power. All things required for everyday existence will be available within their barriers.

Mohammad Shafi Jakvani CEO CITI Associates deals with properties in Defence, Clifton, and Shara-e Faysal. He said that the demand for gated community has made their prices appear to be on fire.

This demand that has led to the development of schemes such as LuckyOne at Rahid Minhas Road, BT Icon in Clifton, Com3 Clifton and AKD’s ARKADIAN in Defence Phase VIII. A joint venture between DHA and AKD group, it’s expected to be launched just after Eid. The prices are expected to be in the range of Rs.40million to Rs.50 million, Mohammad Shafi Jakvani said.

Com3’s prices are in the range of Rs.20million to 40 million depending upon the size and location of the property. Three to four bed rooms apartments and duplex houses (two floor apartments) are being offered on 40 months installments, a Com3 Official told the News.

LuckyOne is the first project to offer high end residences for the upper middle income group in the down town area. There will eight towers 1232 apartments of three and four bedrooms, with all facilities available in any of the upcoming gated communities. The most important thing is that the project will generate power itself to avoid load shedding, said Nasir Aziz, technical director at Luckyone .


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-3-192729-Gated-communities-offer-security-to-beleaguered-Karachiites

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