Idris Elba collaborates with Foster + Partners and Sasaki for Sherbro Island City

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Sherbro Alliance Partners Idris Elba and Siaka Stevens
Sherbro Alliance Partners, Idris Elba, and Siaka Stevens

Foster + Partners and Sasaki Associates, international architecture studios, are collaborating on the development of a master plan for Sherbro Island City in Sierra Leone, West Africa. The project is being led by actor Idris Elba, whose father was born in Sierra Leone, and Siaka Stevens, the grandson of the country’s former president, according to the BBC. Elba said, “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.”

Based on the latest available data from 2013, the Sherbro has a population of around 30,000 people and covers an area of approximately 600 square kilometers. This is slightly larger than the Isle of Man and about twice the size of Malta. The overall plan for the island could potentially accommodate a population of one million people. One of the main aims of Elba is to protect the island’s character without disturbing its nature.

“It’s about being self-reliant, it’s about bringing an economy that feeds itself and has growth potential. I’m very keen to reframe the way Africa is viewed… as an aid model.”

Idris Elba
Sherbro Island City example render
Source image as example © Greenfield Planners Sdn Bhd

The project is planned to be financed through a public-private partnership. The island will have a special economic zone with a separate legal and economic system from the rest of Sierra Leone. It will also bring wind-powered electricity to the island for the first time. Sherbro Alliance Partners, which was built in 2019 to coordinate the masterplan project, agreed with one of Europe’s largest investors in renewable energy, Octopus Energy Generation. Octopus will build a wind and solar farm that includes five wind turbines, an array of solar panels, and battery storage.

The Sherbro Island City project will involve several key partners, alongside Foster + Partners, Sasaki Associates, and Octopus; such as Lloyd’s, for economic growth opportunities; MIC-HUB, for transportation planning and the implementation of efficient and eco-friendly transportation; and PRDW, for coastal engineering to address the impacts of climate change and sea level variations.

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