Getting to the showcase streets of the new institute is an unusual experience. Arriving by road from Abu Dhabi – there will be a train in years to come – you swap your car for a ride in a Personal Rapid Transit pod, an experience that combines the cartoon aesthetic of The Jetsons with the comedy of Jacques Tati's Mon Oncle, the 1958 French satire that lampoons the excesses of an overdesigned futuristic world.
The driverless sci-fi pods bumble around the undercrofts of the first phase of Masdar City and it is a wonder that none of them bump into each other. But they move so slowly it may well be quicker to walk. The original idea was for these comic pods to criss-cross the entire city underground so that residents, commuters and visitors could reach any part of it without having to drive, and in the welcome shade. There would have been hundreds of pods. In the event, they have been seen as an all too complex way of getting about. Future phases of Masdar will be pod-free, although cars and lorries will be directed underground, leaving the streets above for pedestrians only.
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