The Line may be developed in modules, but whether these would correspond to neighborhoods is not clear.
And will individuals, businesses and other entities have creative reign over how their designs are expressed – or will all parts of the city look much the same?
Independent expression of built form is an intrinsic part of conventional cities, but may not be possible with such as rigid structure as The Line. This raises questions about whether people would warm to it.
Creating and maintaining a vision
The Line was to be completed by 2025 in a desire to revolutionize urban living. With construction yet to begin in earnest, it remains to be seen whether such a complex megacity can be completed so soon.
And the project proposal makes precious little mention of important factors such as:
diversity of household types
individual rights (equality of rights, property ownership, access to social services, civic involvement and citizenship)
tolerance of diverse religious and spiritual beliefs.
The Line promises to have “human experience” at its heart, that there will be “progressive laws” and healthcare will facilitate “individual empowerment”.
But maintaining this vision may be difficult as new migrants bring their own values.
A nation-building project
The Line appears to be a massive exercise in nation-building. Its planned 9 million population represents a 25% increase on Saudi Arabia’s current population of 35 million people.
The marketing focus of The Line is on environmental sustainability, technology, luxury and professional lifestyles, innovation and a strategic location. This suggests its planners and designers intend to produce a novel and exemplary urban development that will rapidly transition Saudi Arabia to a post-carbon future.
All the elements are there to do that. But, from a planning and construction perspective, it will require enormous strength of will, financial heft and capability.
And it remains to be seen how successfully The Line will attract the residents it needs to succeed.