Art/Design, Sustainability

Is the 100-mile long mirror skyscraper city Sustainable?

Or just a PR stunt?

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Aug 28, 2022

The Line, a 500-meter-tall linear city that will be constructed as part of Neom near the Red Sea, has been unveiled in a video simulation by the Saudi Arabian government. This would be part of Neom, a Saudi city being built in the Tabuk Province in northwestern Saudi Arabia. “It is planned to incorporate smart city technologies and to function as a tourist destination.” Geographically speaking, the site is north of the Red Sea, east of Egypt across the Gulf of Aqaba, and south of Jordan.


The megastructure, which will cover 170 kilometers of northwest Saudi Arabia, will be 500 meters tall, but only 200 meters wide. It will have a mirrored façade. The Line was created as a striking contrast to conventional cities, which normally extend outward from a central location.


It is advertised as follows:

“No roads, cars or emissions, it will run on 100% renewable energy and 95% of land will be preserved for nature. People’s health and wellbeing will be prioritized over transportation and infrastructure, unlike traditional cities. Only 200 meters wide, but 170 kilometers long and 500 meters above sea level. THE LINE will eventually accommodate 9 million people and will be built on a footprint of just 34 square kilometers. This will mean a reduced infrastructure footprint, creating never-before-seen efficiencies in city functions. The ideal climate all-year-round will ensure that residents can enjoy the surrounding nature. Residents will also have access to all facilities within a five-minute walk, in addition to high-speed rail – with an end-to-end transit of 20 minutes.”


A lot of talk on social media started out being fascinated with this structure. But slowly, as time passed, this seemed more like a PR stunt, and less an environmentally conscious architecture proposal. Many have gone on social media to ask questions such as: “What needs is this city really answering?”, “Who will be living there?”, “Will they be working within the confines of the “line,” or will they have to commute to an outside location?”


The project’s ethos is to put humans first and usher a civilizational revolution by implementing radical change in urban planning. And while this ambitious architectural endeavor offers many solutions when it comes to urban crowding and issues arising from that, it still would need humans to be able to live in it in order for it to not end up a ghost town like many other structures (which would naturally cause more harm than good and contribute to more waste of resources).


The city’s vertically tiered settlements will challenge conventional flat, horizontal cities and will supposedly serve as a model for improved human livability and the preservation of nature. It is meant to shine a light on possible alternative ways to live in urban spaces such as cities.


Any new venture is always bound to be faced with criticism. Though the sustainability criticism here is valid, and would require more answers, this ambitious project could actually offer solutions for human life and its longevity on this Earth. After all, many cities are already experimenting with microclimates and alternative ways to survive during our times.


Will this just be another Liberland, the Metaverse city?


Photo via Neom