Dynamic Simulation of Neighborhood Scale Water Use – A Case Study of Emirati Neighborhoods in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Research Sponsor:

MI/MIT Cooperative Program at MIT and Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi

Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism at MIT (LCAU)


David Birge, Sneha Mandhan, Alan M. Berger


Being located in a hot-humid and arid bioregion, as well as having a unique religious and social context, the Gulf Cooperation Council cities pose major challenges to the achievement of sustainable urban development. Most of these GCC cities’ landscapes are dominated by low-rise and low-density villa housing neighborhoods provided to the natives through government policies and planning efforts. This context presents an opportunity to challenge the predominant villa typology as a go-to housing form, and establish what sustainable urban form could mean for the future of this region. Using native neighborhoods in Abu Dhabi as a case study, this project aims to develop a comprehensive design methodology, which operationalizes theory and numeric analysis towards multi-criteria assessment and feedback-driven design of new neighborhood typologies for the native population. In contrast with existing approaches, the project conceives of sustainability as the combination of qualitative and quantitative factors and metrics reflecting the Emirati’s socio-cultural practices, their economic conditions, and their environmental and climatic limitations. This paper focuses on the methodology of development and application of a water management module, which caters to environmental sustainability. It describes the current state of development of the household indoor and outdoor (vegetative) water use module, an area of simulation critical to developing sustainable neighborhoods for Arab cities, yet underrepresented within the field in general.


International Conference of the Arab Society for Computer Aided Architectural Design ASCAAD 2016, London

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