An international competition for a 1.2 million sq m development in Constantine, Algeria has been won by Canadian firms exp and lemay. Working as a joint venture, the partnership has designed a sustainable new community called El-Menia through a competition hosted by the Agence de gestion et de regulation fonciere urbaine de la Wilaya de Constantine.
As part of the $2.4bn development, 6,500 to 7,500 new homes will be erected within walking distance of the main service areas to ensure that residents aren’t reliant on cars, reducing the city’s carbon footprint. El-Menia will be an exciting new neighbourhood whose arrangement has been inspired by local design and sustainable principles.
The looping lines of Arabic calligraphy and arabesques have been a strong reference point for exp and lemay, with sinuous silhouettes forming an elegant skyline for this future development. 431km east of Algiers, El-Menia also takes reference from a nearby mountain range and dramatic landscape, an influence which can be seen in its green wedge-shaped arrangements and zones of variable density.
The teams explain: “With its pragmatic and audacious strategies, the city of El-Menia can be perceived as a systemic organism with a functional, technical, regulatory, economic, social and symbolic composition. As a result of these multiple forces, our new city presents an ecosystem integrating different variables while taking into account the refined art of living and friendly character so distinctive of the Algerian culture.”
$1.57bn of the full $2.4bn budget for the project will be solely devoted to residential properties, fitting smoothly into a World Heritage global development plan. An affordable cableway system will be integrated into the city plan to enable a swift commute for residents with the majority of amenities only a short walk away.
Not only are the winners of this global competition responsible for the masterplanning of the city but they have also been tasked with the design of the main buildings and typologies for El-Menia. This will ensure an overarching style and feel for the community and enable each element of the design to speak to the city as a whole.