Mapping Abu Dhabi’s Native-Born Neighborhoods: Scenario Planning and Design of New Sustainable Neighborhood Forms

Research Sponsor:

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

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

Principal Investigators:

Alan M. Berger (MIT), Dr. Khaled Alawadi (MI)

Research Team:

(MIT-LCAU): David Birge

Sneha Mandhan, Kevin Li, Jordan Browne

(MI): Milos Mirkovic, Lamis Abu Ashour, Mariam Almheiri,

Ouafa Benkrouda, Dr. Martin Scoppa


Most of the literature in the Urban Design and Planning fields concerning Abu Dhabi describes the city’s historical form and its rapid pace of growth over the past few decades. There is dearth analysis on the environmental impact of this form and growth, leaving the region without proper guidelines to imagine better ways to design and develop urban expansion in the future. This research project will analyze the city’s urban form and evolution with new tools that situate concerns of sustainability, most notably carbon footprints (as linked to a metabolic analysis of neighborhood and building morphology and transportation). The central aim of our proposal attempt to answer how best to evolve growth patterns in the region. The analysis is designed to articulate the impacts of different existing building and neighborhood patterns and their carbon consumption, based on how people use them to construct their daily activities. The study is structured into two major parts. The first section will study and assess the evolution of Abu Dhabi’s native-born housing neighborhoods along with their built form and bundled (or not) transportation services. The second section explores future models and typologies for ideal neighborhoods and their connectedness that at once move the region toward more sustainable carbon metabolism, and preserve the Emirate's unique ecological and cultural context.


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