Welcome to DHA City Karachi (DCK) # The first planned sustainable & green city of Pakistan
Situated on the Karachi-Hyderabad Superhighway, 56 kilometers from the center of Karachi (the financial centre of Pakistan and a global city with an estimated population of 21 million people), DHA City is conceived as an urban model for the 21st century. DHA city comprises 50,000 residential and commercial plots, specialized healthcare and higher education institutes, a convention centre, and a high-rise CBD called DCK downtown. According to the project, the aforementioned facilities introduce new standards of planning adapted to the local conditions, while the planning approach draws on sustainable design principles. As such, the downtown district will be defined by a car free pedestrian spine with tree-lined pathways, garden courtyards, water features and piazza’s.
Still, DHA City comprises Golf Club resorts, theme parks, Lakeview parks, Mall Zones and similar facilities that promise a most “exciting and thrilling entertainment experience.”
Still, the promotional video features a different lifestyle in the DHA City: security towers, checkpoint, central entrance gate, electronic surveillance system, and milestone ceremonies with military officers.
Still, in case you are interested in buying a plot in DHA…
The master plan of DHA City is a joint collaboration of Doxiadis Associates, RMJM (Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall), Osmani & Company (Pvt) Ltd, Karachi, Pakistan, and Professor Spiro Pollalis from the GSD Harvard University as chief planner. Construction on the new city is expected to start in early 2012, with full completion expected by 2030.
Still D: DHA’s Past
Despite being one of the New Towns of what so far has been the 21st century, and a future landmark project of Pakistan, DHA City has a peculiar planning past. From 1959 to 1963, Doxiadis Associates developed the master plan of Islamabad, conceived as the new capital of Pakistan. Sir Robert Matthew and RMJM had a share in the design of several buildings, while the whole venture originated in an economic plan of Pakistan, devised in the mid-1950s by a Harvard Advisory Group under the auspices of the Ford Foundation.
The design of Islamabad brought forward the most complete and ambitious realization of Dynapolis, Constantinos Doxiadis’ planning solution to the management of postwar urban growth, and an alternative to modern planning that was facing criticism. Dubbed by Doxiadis as “The City of the Future,” Islamabad followed the planning principles of Ekistics, easily identified in the video of the DHA project: hierarchical scale of the Ekistic units, the classification of the residential areas in communities of classes, public facilities in walking distance from the residences, etc.
In the case of the DHA City, as Ziyad Mahmoud, associate at RMJM explained, “This theory promotes the concept of mixed use residential sectors by creating multiple centres within them spreading facilities such as commerce, amenities and parks throughout these areas. The principle behind the master plan is a group of self-sustaining cities within a city, with community amenities accessible to all residents within a 10 minute walk.”
For those acquainted with the work and theory of Constantinos Doxiadis, the methodological and theoretical parallelisms between Islamabad and DHA City, can only but provide the background to debate and questions. Are DHA City and the development of the Karachi area a mere proof of Islamabad’s failure as a national capital, or the perfect reasoning of its existence? Is Ekistics pertinent to contemporary urban-regional planning? Are any global, universal, humanistic values that planning should account for? What is the role of theory in applied sciences as urbanism and regional development? Do we still miss a critical view on our planning past?