Madinat al Irfan named ‘Big Urban Project’ of the future

Madinat al Irfan, the new urban district in Oman masterplanned by Allies and Morrison, has won the award for best ‘Big Urban Project’ at The Architectural Review Future Project Awards at MIPIM, the annual property exhibition and conference in Cannes.

Commissioned by Omran, Oman’s national master developer of major tourism, heritage and urban assets, Madinat al Irfan will be a 624 ha extension to the Omani capital of Muscat with a living, working and visiting population of 280,000. Allies and Morrison was appointed to develop a detailed masterplan following an invited competition held by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 2014. Allies and Morrison collaborated closely with a multidisciplinary team of infrastructure specialists at Arup and landscape architect Kim Wilkie.

‘Madinat Al Irfan has given us the opportunity to explore a series of thoughts, ideas and long-held preoccupations on place making but now on a much larger scale – an entire city’, says Allies and Morrison partner Alfredo Caraballo, ‘We have relished the challenge of thinking what should be the nature of a new city in the context of rapid urbanisation, and do so in a way that is connected to its time and place while belonging to a long tradition’.

Grounded in Oman’s considered policy of sustainable development, the project provides a new model of urban design for growing cities around the world, offering a visionary and implementable alternative to the car-dominated, resource-hungry and identikit urbanism of the last three decades.

‘This project shows that there may just be a way to design new cities that really look, feel and belong to the geography in which they are found’, says Graham Morrison, ‘We have been fortunate to work in Oman and with a client like Omran, who take an enlightened approach to sustaining cultural heritage while still being thoroughly focused on the future’.