City of Light – Kabul


Kabul over the years due to occupation and civil unrest has fallen to rubble in many parts of the city, and much of the cities structures are used for makeshift shelter. Many of us would love to see the great city of Kabul revived and brought back to shine brighter than it ever has with the City of Light development plans. The urban reconstruction plan for Kabul known as City of Light is development project that will revitalized the city of Kabul and rejuvenate commerce and the cities way of living. The plan originally proposed by Hisham N. Ashkouri is a design project that will cover roughly a  3.5km long and 1.75km wide area in the heart of Kabul. When completed the design will embody the art and culture of the city, with colors and patterns similar to the popular rugs and artwork that the city so heavily cherishes. Many contractors have been consulted, and have voiced their opinion on the project, including California businessman Joe Shier. Joe who owns a solar company in Santa Ana California, was said to have consulted on the project regarding proposed solar power, and solar screens for the project. I reached out to Joe at his business and asked more about his thoughts. Joe said the project was intended to resemble past successful development projects using an Arid Region Design Technique relying primarily on concrete for high rises, which will all be fitted with solar screens. Joe said the project was large, and would dramtically change the look and feel of the city. “It would be a beautiful integration of public space, commerce, living, and culture” said Joe about the proposed design. However yesterdays attacks in Kabul, and the overall unrest in the country did make Joe and others skeptical of the project and nervous of its long term success. Like we have discussed here, financing for projects such as this are contingent on high success probabilities and low risk. Lenders will be reluctant to support such an endeavor if they do not see the possibility of a return, and especially if they question if they will even get their original investment back if the city falls into unrest and terrorist attacks. The hopes and dreams of an entire city will most likely go unrealized because of the dogmatic actions of a few extremists. “Nobody wants to invest in a city that might just get blown up.” said John in our last conversation. 

The future of the City of Light is unknown at this point in time and the illustrious vision of the designers will go unrealized for the time being. This does not mean that people are giving up on Kabul though. Many people want to see the city turned around, and want to see the vision of Hisham N. Ashkouri come to life. The Arid design and decadent landscape would bring a new life to the region many propose. Similarly sparking a new era of culture, art, and commerce in the city that has been operating in the rubble of past conflicts. With a booming population Kabul would greatly benefit from a newly designed city and a new sense of pride and accomplishment. Often times we associate heavily with the accomplishments of our people, and our surrounding, and if the citizens could live in a city so elegantly designed, they might correlate that with their personal ability to create and bring marvelous visions to life. The united states is a great example of this, many people relish in the accomplishments of their forefathers and it gives them great confidence in their own abilities to get things done. In contrast, Kabul is shrouded in fear and uncertainty because of extremism and cannot relish in each others accomplishments.

History is not yet written for Kabul, and their is still a lot of promise for the city and its citizens. No one is giving up on the great plans for the city of light, but for now they must be put on hold.