Skidmore, Owings and Merrill

A look at the Alaro City Masterplan by Skidmore Owings and Merrill

Following the launch of the Alaro City project located in the Lekki Free Trade Zone of Lagos State, Nigeria, global architecture and design firm, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), unveiled their masterplan for the satellite city.

Designed for the Lagos State Government and development partners, Rendeavour, Alárò City will be a mixed-income, city-scale development for
people to work, make, live, and learn. Its 1,000-hectare site is part of the wider 16,000-hectare Lekki Free Trade Zone, which aims to become an international trade gateway with a new seaport and airport. The realization of the city would further strengthen the state’s position as the economic and cultural hub of West Africa.

Project Description

By focusing first on natural systems, SOM designed a master plan that protects and enhances the unique conditions of the site—comprising a lush forest between two lagoons—while enabling longterm resiliency for the future city. The plan is structured around six greenways, aligned north-to-south with the prevailing winds and existing topography, and spaced 800 meters apart to bring all residents and workers within five-minute walk of open space. The greenways are also designed to convey stormwater into the lagoon to the north.

SOM planned transport infrastructure to support local economic activity and to allow for higher density, mixed-use development. Larger industrial and logistical development plots are in the south, adjacent to an inter-district transport corridor, while smaller plots for residential, mixed-use, and commercial development are located to the north, with views to the lagoon. A main boulevard connects the commercial, enterprise, and educational areas on the north with the research and the industrial areas on the south.

A vibrant city core will become the civic heart of the Free Trade Zone—a focal point for innovation and collaboration, as well as a destination for leisure and entertainment. The development is complemented with shaded, pedestrian-friendly streets and strong connections to public transit. A clearly defined network of urban plazas will link to a 14-hectare Central Park, designed to support a variety of events and bolster the region’s ambition to become a thriving center of trade and commerce.

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