Foster + Partners and Sasaki Associates designing Sierra Leone island city for Idris Elba


Architecture studios Sasaki Associates and Foster + Partners are masterplanning a smart city for up to a million people on Sherbro island in Sierra Leone.

According to the BBC, the studios are creating a masterplan for the entire island as part of a project led by actor Idris Elba, whose father was born in Sierra Leone, and Siaka Stevens, grandson of the country’s former president.

A “beautiful retirement home for my mum”

Elba described the plans, by UK studio Foster + Partners and US studio Sasaki Associates, to redevelop the 65-mile-long island into a self-reliant “smart city” as “a dream”.

“It’s a dream, you know, but I work in the make-believe business,” Elba told BBC. “It’s about being self-reliant, it’s about bringing an economy that feeds itself and has growth potential.”

“Part of me wants to build that beautiful retirement home for my mum,” he continued.

“Never in my lifetime would I have thought I could build the foundation for a new smart-city… I’m not qualified for that. But I am qualified to dream big.”

Development for “up to a million people”

According to the BBC, the project for the island in the southwest of the country is set to be “financed through a public-private partnership”, with Sherbro designated as a special economic zone.

Few details of the development have been released, but Stevens told the BBC that the masterplan would initially be focused on the town of Bonthe – the largest settlement on the island with a population of around 10,000.

According to Stevens, the whole 230-square-mile island is within the project’s scope with the potential of “a population of up to a million people”.

Sherbro Alliance Partners, which is co-ordinating the masterplan, has enlisted energy company Octopus to develop a strategy for electricity generation based on wind power.

The Sherbro island development is the latest in a series of smart cities that have been proposed around the world. In 2020, Senegalese-American singer Akon signed an agreement with the government of Senegal to build a cryptocurrency-based development named Akon City.

We recently rounded up 10 futuristic cities that are being developed in countries including Mexico, Malaysia and the USA.

The photo is by Harald Krichel.



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