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28 January 2020
Visiting an Environmentally – Friendly Park – Exploring Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi
29 March 2020

Sustainable City Design

Making a sustainable city has become a common topic of conversation nowadays, it is a discussion we have with our colleagues, our students, and within our communities. We discuss the true meaning of a sustainable city, what it means to us individually, and how we can contribute to it. We also talk about its key features, what it should include, and the characteristics and elements of it.

There are many definitions for a sustainable city, the basic one would be that it’s an urban space designed with consideration for social, economic, environmental impact, in addition to that, it should offer a good quality of life for current residents without reducing opportunities for the future residents. So, how do we create such a space, and what are the key elements and features of a sustainable city?

At Eedama, we regularly work with people on how to design what they think the ideal sustainable city would look like. This usually goes hand in hand with a Masdar tour that takes part before the workshop. For example, in February, we hosted university students sponsored by the Armenian embassy. The students came from different backgrounds, but they all had one goal in mind; understanding what a sustainable city looks like and bringing back new knowledge and ideas back home with them. We started the day touring Masdar and discussing the environmentally friendly techniques used there.

After the tour, students conducted a social audit that would help them understand more about Masdar’s sustainability and the awareness of the people who worked there. They went to different locations with questions in hand, and interviewed randomly selected people. The workshop also consisted of comparing regular cities and sustainable cities; what each constitutes of, and what features and elements make a regular city sustainable.

In order to implement what they learned during the tour and accompanying activities, the students engaged in a sustainable city design workshop. In this workshop, they would create a city using what they learned and what they know needs to be improved.

Working on this workshop, we focused on big scale features, such as the urban planning and zoning, and we discussed the different alternatives we have, because when you think about it, there is no single design for a sustainable city; what we do have is a choice of different solutions integrated to create this concept.

So, we start on the big scale, urban planning, the design of the streets, plots, and even public transportation is very important. Designing a city that promotes walking or riding bicycles would have a great impact on future sustainability. Another thing is zoning; it’s crucial to know where to put residence and commerce areas, public spaces, and factories even. Starting with a sustainable urban design or plan in mind will in itself contribute to the city’s future.

The city should include renewable energy sources, and reduce waste, and nowadays, we have so many solutions and options for such elements. Local food production can also contribute to a more eco-friendly city, decreasing the carbon footprint and increasing greenery. This can be done using farms or even vertical roofs, which add beauty to buildings.

However, the most important point would be raising awareness and encouraging sustainability, because if the people who live in such a city don’t know how to contribute to it, then the city will always be lacking. It has to be a collaboration between everyone within the city, working together towards sustainability.

Let us know your thoughts? What would you add to your sustainable city? What features of elements do you think every sustainable city needs? You can even visit a sustainable city with us. Contact us to know more about Masdar City tours and our sustainable city design workshop.

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The picture above is from our workshop with the Armenian students. We studied the map of Masdar and re-imagined a sustainable city of our own. We started by identifying the different zones and where their locations will be in the city, and then each student gave input of what they would include in their own sustainable city.
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Last month as well, Next Generation School joined us from Dubai for a Masdar tour. The picture shows the students after the tour, when they got into groups and designed their own sustainable cities, and even got to name them. The students presented their cities at the end of the day.

Click here for more information about Eedama’s Masdar field trip.

Mariam Radwan
Mariam Radwan
Sustainability Instructor at Eedama.

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