By Vincenzo Burdi
In recent years, sustainability has become a hot topic of conversation in architecture. People are flocking to organizations like LEED and USGBC, but sustainability has always been a subject of concern for most non-western cultures for many years. Masdar, which means "the source" in Arabic consequently is what the city is striving to become. Masdar City, is a 6-sq-km development in Abu Dhabi, set to become the world's first zero emission city. Abu Dhabi is the fifth largest oil distributer in the world, but is looking to creating a model city of the future.
The face of Abu Dhabi has changed in the last 25 years. Houses made of mud-bricks and palm fronds have been replaced by glass-covered high-rises with very modern or Western orientation. That is why the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (ADFEC) is investing in this city of dreams. They understand the future of urban cities and have taken certain measures to become the first to pioneer a revolutionary idea. The entire city will developed around the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology which will focus on renewable energy bringing together academic and commercial agendas.
The middle east has a particular set of design obstacles to overcome. Due to the very hot and humid summer months in Abu Dhabi wind towers are typically built to provide cool ventilation of habitable spaces. The sun is constant threat but with advances in Solar Photovoltaic Technologies it has become a reliable ally and provides energy for the people of Abu Dhabi. UK architects at Foster + Partners have been asked to draw inspiration from traditional Arabic cities. They have revisited simple traditional methods of shading streets with narrow alleys, carefully planning landscape and water features which will cool air. They have also introduce newer technologies like solar panels source of energy and reflective facades which will bounce heat away from space. The use of both traditional and contemporary architectural methods makes this a great resource. The future of Abu Dhabi looks promising.