Zira is a sci-fi fantasy dream world designed by Danish architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). The development will have solar thermal panels for hot water, photovoltaic cells, and its own offshore wind farm. Buildings will be heated and cooled by heat pumps connected to the surrounding sea. Waste water will be cleaned at a treatment plant and recycled for irrigation. Solid wastes will be composted and used for top soil, fertilizing the island. Storm water will also be harvested.
According to BIG, Zira will be “entirely independent of external resources.” The million-square-meter project will have seven residential towers in the shape of mountains as well as 300 private waterfront villas.
Initiatives like Zira should be applauded, especially from countries like Azerbaijan that have plenty of oil to burn. Whether luxury “insta-cities” like Zira prove to be anything more than elitist green enclaves amidst the rest of a not-so-green region remains to be seen.
Hopefully average citizens and lower-income communities will benefit from green technology developed for wealthier enclaves. Otherwise, despite how green Zira Island really is, it might just be offset by the lack of sustainability and fair green housing in the rest of Central Asia and the Middle East.