Abu Dhabi Scenario Planning & Design of New Sustainable Neighborhood Forms

The continued and global popularity of single-family homes indicates that a scalable, yet regionally appropriate strategy for achieving zero carbon suburban development is needed in the coming decades. This need is especially critical in the hyper-arid region around the Arabian Gulf where per-person carbon emissions are among the highest in the world.

This project used Emirati neighborhoods in Abu Dhabi, UAE as a case study to explore the potential for arid regions to reduce operational carbon emissions through technology adoption, better housing and landscape design, renewable energy transitions, and carbon sequestration from tree planting. Our findings show that improved design of the built environment alone can have significant impact on future emissions, and that integrating existing technologies with better design can allow households to achieve net carbon zero soon. The project also explored the positive microclimatic, aesthetic, and civic impacts of dense tree planting in currently highly exposed neighborhoods.

To conduct our research, the team developed hybrid numerical-geometric computational tools to iteratively calculate and visualize the household metabolism of projective parcel and neighborhood scale design options.

Funding for this research was provided by the Masdar Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cooperative Program.

Fall 2016