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14 October 2022 | Posted by angela.tuduri

Diriyah Project - The mega city of mud

The use of natural resources and elements opens a range of new opportunities in building and construction projects. Houses created from the foundations with compacted earth blocks (tapia) or the intensive use of wood as a natural and main element in construction projects show us the sustainable alternative to traditional architecture.   

In 2017 a megaproject started off groundbreaking that today, in 2022, is positioned as the largest earthen city in the world.   

In today's post, we talk about Diriyah; the first sustainable ecosystem turned city that starts construction in Saudi Arabia. Elisabetta Carnevale, professor of sustainability and 3D printing subjects at La Salle URL, is involved in the megaproject.   

Sustainable projects - A new reality   

Sustainability has become an everyday term in our lives. More and more organizations, brands, people... are pursuing an eco-friendly lifestyle with less damage to our planet.  

Architecture and construction are not the only ones joining forces in the creation of projects with more sustainable spaces. Today's organizations are also seeking sustainability and environmental care in their strategic plans and main objectives.   

A sustainable project incorporates the principles of environmental and social conservation from the beginning and during all phases of the construction process. An integrated project in which all perspectives are combined; among other advantages, it makes it possible to reduce energy consumption by more than 40% compared to a traditional building.  

Natural benefits  

Sustainable projects, as we have already mentioned, integrate all the environmental parts in their execution stage, projecting greater energy savings with renewable natural resources and materials.  

Now, what are the benefits of sustainable architecture?   

  • Increased use of natural material resources  

  • Regulation of energy consumption   

  • Increased use of renewable energy   

  • Reduced project costs   

  • Improved lifestyle and quality of life for residents.  

After looking at the benefits brought by sustainability in architectural projects, we explore the megaproject in which Elisabetta Carnevale, a professor at La Salle URL is part of. The project's main objective is to build a city made entirely of earth and sustainable elements in Saudi Arabia.  

Diriyah - The megaproject  

A new city built with soil. An architectural project that seeks to improve the quality of life for all people through sustainable and efficient elements. The Diriyah project began its development in 2017 and the current plan extends over 14 square kilometers on the outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh.   

Participating in the realization of the world's largest earthen city is a dream for any earthen construction expert.- Elisabetta Carnevale  

The main material with which this mega-project is to be built will be earth. Using adobes, sun-dried mud bricks, the city of Diriyah will be built to accommodate 27 million people by 2030.  So far, more than 1 million adobe units have been made, making it the largest adobe city in the world.   

The project's progress is measured in three phases: DG1 (Diriyah Gate), DG2 and DG3. Currently, work is underway on the construction of Diriyah Gate 1, an area that will house more than 1,600 buildings and have a capacity of up to 6,000 residents or citizens.   

For a future-oriented country like Saudi Arabia to invest in land is a very strong message to the planet's major economies: land-based heritage is there to teach valuable lessons in wellbeing and sustainable development.- Elisabetta Carnevale - Professor of Construction Project & Sustainable Projects   

At Terra Architecture they have been working on the construction of the city of Diriyah since 2020, when they decided to embark on the megaproject with Boston Consulting Group. Elisabetta and her team are conducting feasibility studies on the pilot buildings and will start construction in 2023. 

Sustainable architecture and projects   

Sustainable architecture enables us to find new ways to improve the quality of existing buildings and constructions while taking advantage of natural resources. Project management at the same time serves as a fulcrum for mega-projects such as the city of Diriyah.  

Elisabetta Carnevale, professor of the Master in Project Management at La Salle URL states that heritage on earth is there to give valuable lessons on wellbeing and sustainable development.  

If you are considering training in project management, the program in project management will prepare you to become a management professional in the area of your choice: sustainable project leader, 3D printing in mud, digital transformation...  

What are you waiting for?  


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