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A unique opportunity to shape a city of the future.

Masdar City – Wayfinding masterplan

A unique opportunity to shape a city of the future.


Masdar City is an extraordinary urban development in Abu Dhabi that, when completed in 2020/25, will maximise the benefits of sustainable technologies. Masterplanned by architects Foster + Partners for Mubadala Development Company, this 640 hectare project aims to be carbon neutral and zero waste, establishing a precedent for life beyond oil.

Following a worldwide tender, we were appointed to design and develop an intelligent user-centred wayfinding strategy that presents a city-wide approach to navigation, naming and information communication technology.

An evolved masterplan

We developed a strong relationship with Foster + Partners and the Masdar City team, adding value at workshops in Abu Dhabi and London. Our wayfinding strategy influenced the masterplan resulting in a number of changes to the street layout. We also offered additional input regarding brand development to help Masdar create a truly unique environment.

Created a smart, responsive wayfinding scheme

We invited City ID – specialists in city-scale urban design – to join the design team. The city is designed to be a ‘walking city’ following principles from historic Arabic and Middle Eastern cities. This led us to reconsider the typical city-wide approach to wayfinding and people movement. From the outset we instilled a user centred design approach, calling our strategy Bio-Dynamic Wayfinding with the relationship of all the city’s components firmly at its heart.

We proposed circulation routes around the city alongside a location plan for wayfinding landmarks and conceptual recommendations for architectural enhancements.

A ‘name and address’ strategy considered the characteristics and culture of the area and the hierarchy of public spaces, buildings and transport routes throughout the city. We conceived a full naming system for all roads, districts, public plazas, gateways and car parks.

We suggested new wayfinding technologies that could be developed. This included mobile phone apps that could be downloaded from the signs, live environmental conditions and synchronised emergency information.

We created the strategy in coordination with the wider design team at Masdar and a specialist team of urban designers and technology specialists.

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