Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has revealed plans for The Line, a futuristic urban planning model intended to house 9 million residents. The innovative design, which looks ripped from a video game, sees two tall, narrow buildings run into the Red Sea. The mirror-clad building will be a highlight of Neom, a smart city being built in northwest Saudi Arabia.
Though the Saudi government had previously announced plans for The Line, Prince Mohammed's announcement is the first time the public is receiving specifics. The Line will run 105 miles across the desert, making it by far the longest building ever created. Standing 1,640 feet tall, it is only 656 feet wide, which means its overall footprint is small. This design allows Neom's environment to remain undisturbed in a way that wouldn't be possible using the traditional urban plan of creating a city horizontally.
By thinking vertically, the plan is to create neighborhoods where residents would have access to all their basic needs within a five-minute walk. At the same time, integrated transportation would make it possible to travel the entire length of The Line in just 20 minutes.
“At The Line’s launch last year, we committed to a civilizational revolution that puts humans first based on a radical change in urban planning,” shared Prince Mohammed, who is also chairman of the NEOM Board of Directors. “The designs revealed today for the city's vertically layered communities will challenge the traditional flat, horizontal cities and create a model for nature preservation and enhanced human livability. The Line will tackle the challenges facing humanity in urban life today and will shine a light on alternative ways to live.”
The renderings show two buildings running side-by-side. The inner void will be filled with greenery, as well as walkways and bridges that connect both sides. The idea is to have The Line run 100% on renewable energy, which will most likely be possible due to solar energy harnessed from the desert. Though the government did not announce the architects who designed The Line, Dezeen reports that it was conceived by the American firm Morphosis.
While no timeline for the construction of The Line was announced, Neom has set a deadline of 2030 for its first phase. At that point, residents would be expected to move in. The Guardian reports that this first phase will cost over $320 billion, with that money coming from government subsidies, the private sector, and an initial public offering set for 2024.
Though some are skeptical that Neom and The Line can get off the ground, the prince is firm in his belief in the project. In fact, he's banking on it to help move the Saudi economy away from its reliance on oil. “That’s the main purpose of building Neom,” he said. “To raise the capacity of Saudi Arabia, get more citizens and more people in Saudi Arabia. And since we are doing it from nothing, why should we copy normal cities?”