Egypt’s ambitious new administrative capital is a large-scale infrastructure project on the edge of Cairo that will be crowned by Africa’s tallest skyscraper.
Halfway between the historic city of Cairo and the Gulf of Suez sits the as yet unnamed new administrative and financial capital (NAC) of Egypt. Still under construction, the new metropolis already rises impressively from what was formerly a 700km2 expanse of desert 45km to the east of the Nile.
Cairo’s 20 million residents already make it one of the most crowded cities in the world, with the greater region’s population expected to double over the next 20-30 years. The new city is expected to ease congestion and boost economic development as part of the Egypt Vision 2030 programme.
Designed to accommodate the country’s main government departments and ministries, as well as foreign embassies, the NAC will house a population of 6.5 million once completed.
A steel-built oasis
Planned to support 21 residential districts and 25 ‘dedicated’ districts, the city will boast a sprawling central park with artificial lakes and a steel and concrete composite-built ‘green river’ that will run through the NAC, mimicking the path of the Nile through Cairo.
The city will also feature 2,000 educational institutions, more than 600 hospitals and clinics, a technology and innovation park as well as a huge theme park that will be four times the size of Disneyland.
The city will play host to the new national stadium, a 93,000-seater which will be the second largest in Africa once completed. The stadium roof, which will be supported by a high-strength steel truss frame and steel suspension cables, is designed to resemble the ceremonial headdress of Queen Nefertiti.
The valley of the skyscrapers
At its heart will be the NAC’s downtown, a newly developed cluster of skyscrapers that will be home to the city’s business district. Looming over the skyline is the city’s pinnacle, the glittering Iconic Tower.
Standing 394m tall over 78 floors and two basement levels, the Iconic is Africa’s tallest tower. Inspired by the 3,000-year-old Obelisk of Luxor, the building comprises 40 floors of offices, 10 of high-end apartments, with another 30 for a five-star hotel with a 74th floor observation deck that offers unparalleled views of the new cityscape.
The tower was constructed by the China State Construction Engineering Company, which had the challenge of laying the super tall structure’s foundations into the basalt rock which lays underneath the NAC.
The Iconic Tower’s is formed of a composite steel structure grounded on a reinforced concrete raft which sits directly on the rock surface. Safely supporting the full weight of 78 floors requires 4,600 tonnes of high-strength steel reinforcement and the new tower’s foundations are rock solid.
Connecting and powering an entirely new city is a massive undertaking, with huge engineering works needed to provide sewers, power cables and roads to the NAC’s desert location.
90 square kilometres of solar energy farms slated for development in the nearby desert allowed planners to take advantage of the high levels of solar activity the region experiences, with the aim to provide up to 35% of the city’s energy needs.
450km of high-strength steel rail will be laid and operational by 2023, with an expected 1,750km expansion later connecting the new capital with the city of Aswan
Egypt has also teamed up with Siemens to deliver a high-speed rail line that will extend from El Alamein on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast through the NAC to Ain Sokhna on the country’s Red Sea coastline.
The 450km of high-strength steel rail will be laid and operational by 2023, with an expected 1,750km expansion later connecting the new capital with the city of Aswan on the edge of Lake Nasser in Egypt’s south.
Egypt’s new capital city is founded on the skills of the design and engineering teams that make infrastructure projects like this possible. Those teams in turn needed materials they could rely on to realise their ambition – an innovative steel-built city towering above the desert.
Images: Dar Al-Handasah