Category: Comparison Essay
Large Scale Urban Development Projects

Large scale urban development projects are also commonly known as mega projects. These are exceedingly large-scale investments located in many parts of the world. There are many mega projects in the world, and their list is endless. In monetary terms, megaprojects are defined as the ones that cost up to$1 billion and they have attracted much public attention due to their tremendous impact on people and the environment. Megaprojects require great caution in planning and implementation since they are long-term and it is not easy to reverse any mistake that may occur during the planning. The precaution during planning and implementation helps to reduce future misinterpretation and any negative criticism that may arise. Some of the mega projects across the world are bridges, highways, airports, power plants, tunnels, railways, dams, seaports, Special Economic Zones (SEZ), wastewater projects, public buildings aerospace projects, gas extraction projects, weapon systems and many more.

Mega projects are rapidly emerging both in the developing and developed nations. Their appearance is a result of the political and economic goals aimed at improving urban competitiveness. However, the driving force behind the construction of megaprojects is the changing face of globalization. In short, the rise of megaprojects is a result of the interaction among various factors such as globalization, economic competition, changing the face of the real estate, advanced architectural know-how as well as the strong political ambitions.

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Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina is one of the popular districts in Dubai, UAE. Dubai Marina is the unique and best artificial canal found in the world. It is constructed along a 3km stretch on the Persian Gulf. It consists of both villas and residential places that can accommodate up to 120,000 people. Dubai Marina is connected to four other cities including Jebel Airport, Dubai Internet City, American University, and Dubai Media City. The strategic position is one of the key factors that have contributed to its growth. The development of Dubai Marina was a direct inspiration of Concord Pacific Place Development. The individuals who nurtured the idea of building the city had a dream of developing a world-class city that would be a major business hub.

Project Development

The Dubai Marina is built on a place that was formerly a water body. The first step was to move the water from elsewhere to the site where Dubai Marina was to be constructed, which created a water body that was not there. A huge central waterway that extended for 3 km from the desert was created. This area was developed into a large city with extensive walkways. Dubai Marina is one of the biggest manmade features in the world. Its emergence can be attributed to the real estate firm known as Emaar Properties, but it was architecture by HOK Canada. Indeed, it will be the largest manmade Marina in the whole world. It is going to overtake Marina Del Rey, which is currently the largest in California, USA.

Dubai Marina is developed in several systematic phases. The first phase is about 25 acres consisting of six freehold residential and business buildings. The phase on completion costs more than AED 1.2 billion. Out of these six buildings, three of them are named after valuable stones, namely, Murjan, Al Mass, and Fairooz. The rest three were named after popular Arabic scents, namely, Al Yass, Mesk and Anbar. There is also a 7 km pedestrian walk that runs around the Marina. This walk has cafes, restaurants, and boats for recreation purposes. The community around the Dubai Marina functions and holds events at Marina walk.

The second phase consists of tall buildings only. These buildings are clustered into one block. The block is described as the "tallest block in the world." The buildings in this phase range between 820 and 984 feet. These towers are named Sulafa Tower, Infinity Tower, Marina Pinnacle, and Ocean Heights Tower. However, there are other taller skyscrapers that rise above 350 meters, such as Dream Dubai Marina, 23 Marina, Princess Tower, and Elite Residence. The combination of the two phases is what constitutes the Dubai Marina in terms of buildings.

Alongside the Marina is Jumeirah Beach Residence which is a 1.7 km community situated along the Persian Gulf. It is estimated to have over forty residential towers making it the largest residential development built on one phase. JBR can host about 15,000 individuals in its houses and hotels. The project has about 6,917 apartments and 5,500 penthouses. It was developed by Dubai developers and handed over to the government in 2002. There are five hotels in JBR that are either four stars or five stars.

There is also a popular walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence, which is a 1.7 km strip beside the complex. This walk was also developed by Dubai Properties and completed in 2007. It is estimated that the walk holds about 330 occupants including restaurants, boutiques, clothing stores, cafes, department stores, and gyms. Apart from the beach, there are numerous features that make Dubai Marina a suitable place for holidays. One of them is Al Sahab. It is a twin tower that has a waterfront. There is also Almajara that is a residential house with a high-rise waterside. The main thing that has made the city perfect for tourists is the beach. It was built and renovated by Meraas Holding. The beach has beautiful hotels known as Sheraton and Hilton. It was later equipped with a complex that could hold parking, food and beverage outlets and entertainment facilities.

There is also Marina Quays within Dubai Marina. It is 20 meters long and lies over the water consisting of apartments, outlets, and stores. It is a three-building residential house named Quay North, Quay West, and Quay East. In addition, there is another four-tower house consisting of residential homes. It is known as Park Island since it has numerous landscaped gardens and parks. It has four big mansions, namely, Sanibel, Blakely, Fairfield, and Bonaire. Dubai Marina Mall is the biggest shopping mall in the city. It is an ideal shopping center for visitors and residents of Dubai Marina. It has 140 world-class retail outlets making it one of the largest malls in Dubai. It consists of varied services such as supermarkets, shops, entertainment areas for children and cinemas. Dubai Marina is served by a well-developed transport network such as the Dubai Metro Red Line.

Factors that Facilitated Its Development

The growth of Dubai Marina was facilitated by various factors. There was the availability of capital since this was one of the most expensive projects established in Dubai. There was political good will since the government was ready to risk and hugely invest in such a project. The architectural knowledge was advanced that enabled Dubai Marina to be the largest water tunnel in the whole world. The technological know-how also played a recognizable role since this project required advanced technological devices. All these factors interacted and the outcome was a world-class project popularly known as Dubai Marina.

Impact and Problems Associated with the Project

The project stimulated rapid economic growth through the creation of jobs, expansion of investment opportunities and wealth creation. The project acted as a benchmark for the development of other projects in the country. It led to the establishment and expansion of infrastructures such as improved housing, transport, social amenities, and others. However, the project did not take place without challenges. These included sandy soil in Dubai that made it hard to build firm foundations for tall buildings. The climate was also characterized by strong winds that are a threat to tall skyscrapers. These challenges, however, were properly addressed and Dubai Marina came into existence.

Roppongi Hills

Roppongi Hills is one of the newest and largest developments in Japan. It is situated in the Roppongi district. It was built by a popular building tycoon known as Minoru Mori who designed it to have offices, shops, apartments, restaurants, movie theatres, and cafes. At the middle of the town is a 54-storey building which also has shops, hotels, and other recreation facilities. The main vision of the developer was to build an urban community where people can work, eat, and play without traveling. He wanted people to work in one place, live there, play, and shop in the same environment. To him, this was meant to increase Japan's competitiveness, expand leisure time, and improve the quality of life in Japan.

Development of Roppongi Hills

Roppongi Hills was a multi-billion project, the estimated cost of which was $4 billion, and it was built on a 24-acre piece of land. One of the most significant towers in Roppongi Hills is Mori Tower that is a 24-storey house that was designed by a renowned architect Kohn Pedersen Fox. It is a home for museums, cafes, restaurants, clinics, offices, and stores. It is a home for Barclays Capital, Konami, Ferrari Japan, J-Wave, Time Inc., Goldman Sachs, Lenovo, Chevron, Baidu, BP, SAS Institute, Gree, and Google. The first six floors of the Mori Tower consist of restaurants and retail stores. The upper six floors house the Tokyo City View and the Mori Art Museum. The exit from the tower consists of a glass atrium featuring television screens, shops, escalators, and restaurants.

There are other smaller buildings around the Mori Tower. These are also sites for shops, cinema complex, restaurant, and Mori Garden. Behind the Mori Tower is a busy street known as Roppongi Keyakizaka that is an ever-busy street housing luxury stores and cafes. There is also another luxurious street holding about 793 expensive and deluxe houses. The tower is surrounded by open spaces with pavilions, gardens and other recreation areas. The most popular garden around this area is Mori Garden that is made up of ponds and trees.

Challenges Facing the Project

The Mori Tower faced many challenges such as the death of a six-year-old boy in 2004. The boy was killed by the revolving door since the door sensors are placed too high and they could not sense the presence of the boy. The management of the tower paid the boy 70 million yen in compensation, and effective safety precautions were put in place. Consequently, the revolving doors were removed and sliding doors were put in place.

The tower has also been criticized since the building has large outdoor speakers, which have been blamed for noise pollution. However, this has been ignored by the management as stated by the residents. The noise pollution has caused many people who reside around the tower to vacate. The tower has also been a victim of financial constraints. The Mori Building Company financed the whole project with $800 million, and the rest $1.3 billion was in the form of debt from many banks. The debt has accumulated over years up to $5.6 billion. The loan has been a great hindrance to the expansion of the project.

In addition, the project has been facing much competition from the neighboring cities. Urban mega projects in Japan have been on the rise following rapid industrialization and globalization. As a result, many mega projects such a Tokyo Midtown have emerged near Roppongi Hills. Tokyo is less than 1 km from the border of Roppongi Hills, and it is intended to develop Tokyo's largest building, museum, and a world-class park. It is also expected to build prestigious houses and offices that are going to give stiff competition to Roppongi Hills.

Comparison of Dubai Marina and Roppongi Hills

While Dubai Marina was built on water mass as a manmade tunnel, Roppongi Hills was built on a land mass just like any other building. Dubai Marina was started by the UAE government that provided all the funding and the machinery. On the other hand, Roppongi Hills was started by a private developer. As a result, the project has been marred by enormous financial constraints. Dubai Marina is one of the projects whose development required extensive architectural skills given that the project would be developed on sandy soil and water, and strong winds are threats to tall buildings. On the other hand, Roppongi Hills was built on a level ground that did not need different technologies. Dubai Marina is mainly a business hub holding retail stores, hotels, beaches, museums, and so on. In addition, it is a coastal city that attracts large numbers of tourists due to the prestigious beaches. Similarly, Roppongi Hills holds different companies, but it does not act as a tourist hub.

The construction of Dubai Marina is fully endorsed by the local inhabitants since it was aimed at transforming the coastal region into one of the most attractive business zones in the UAE. Its construction and establishment did not pose any threat to the locals. On the other hand, Roppongi Hills was marred with stiff rejection as some of its features caused noise pollution and even death to some extent. Dubai Marina continues to expand attracting many people across the world, while Roppongi Hills has been stagnating to the accumulated debts from banks. While Dubai Marina is outstanding and incomparable, Roppongi Hills face various competitions from emerging projects such as Tokyo Midtown. Finally, while Dubai Marina has contributed tremendously towards economic development in Dubai in the form of job creation, infrastructure, and business opportunities, Roppongi Hills has not done much since it is a private business entity.

Lessons Learnt from the Cases

The two cases provide readers with different essential lessons. From the two incidences, it is clear that any two projects developed independently are always different in nature. The roles they play impact society, and the way the society perceives them is also different. Another lesson learned is that the baseline analysis is important prior to the establishment of any project as this helps in establishing any negative impact of the project on the community. It is also clear that problems should be addressed promptly without procrastination since this may result in more negative incidents as in the case of Roppongi Hills. In addition, it is evident that the failure to improve a facility makes it substandard, and better facilities that emerge are likely to overtake it. Finally, the best always receive the best as in the case of Dubai Marina that becomes a world-class business hub across the world.


Complex urban projects have been on the increase due to rapid globalization and industrialization. Though they need huge investments, they contribute greatly to economic expansion on their completion. Dubai Marina became the largest manmade tunnel in the whole world hosting different businesses and recreation sites. Roppongi Hills became one of the most famous economic hubs in Japan hosting shops, museums, and restaurants. Though the projects have faced many drawbacks, their contributions to the economy are enormous.

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