Liwa date farms benefit from some of the freshest ground water in the UAE. Copyrights: Google
Those who visit the Middle East and North Africa from more temperate climates are often struck with how hot and dry the region is, and how scarce its rainfall. Some wonder why cities became established here, and how they continue to exist despite the lack of renewable freshwater.
These concerns are not entirely groundless. Yet these cities’ existence is not in any way miraculous: it’s merely an example of what can happen if cities fail to strike a sustainable balance between growth and limited resources.
Continue reading How Sustainable is Your Oasis?: A Review of Water Resources in Middle East Cities
The notions of sustainable design and energy efficiency first entered global consciousness following the energy shortages of the 1970s and 1980s. Influenced by ideas of energy independence, many designers in Europe and North America sought ideas and strategies that could help create energy-efficient buildings and cities. As they searched for design solutions, some researched the environmentally responsive elements of traditional architecture, while others developed new solutions that employ modern technologies and high performance materials.
As the energy crisis subsided, the building industry in North America returned to business as usual, allowing its European counterpart – which emphasized technological solutions – to take a lead. But with the revival of global interest in sustainability – this time driven by both environmental and energy concerns – the dormant dialogue between the two approaches to sustainable design returned to play a role in shaping the global sustainability agenda. Oscillating between advocates of passive design and proponents of technological solutions, this dialogue continues to enrich the discourse on the future of sustainable design and development
National Commercial Bank in Jeddah (left). consists of a triangular 27-storey office tower juxtaposed with a six-storey, 400-car circular garage. The verticality of the bank tower is interrupted by three triangular courtyards ‘chiseled’ into the building's facade. The office windows are oriented towards these courtyards with an inward orientation typical of Islamic traditional design. This provides the interiors with daylight but prevents them from overheating. Copyrights: Wolgfang Hoyt/Esto. Shaded pathways within Masdar Institute for Science and Technology (right) Copyrights: Nigel Young
Continue reading A Review of Sustainable Design in the Middle East
In late 2008 the French President Francois Sarkozy inaugurated a new French school in Damascus, Syria. The French school, known as Lycée Charles de Gaulle, follows the french educational system and is accreddited by the French ministry of education. The school was designed by the French architects Ateliers Lion together with the German environmental engineering firm, Transsolar.
Image 1. Night view of school central courtyard showing the solar chimneys. Copyrights: Adria Goula Sarda, Ateliers Lion
The brief for the design team was to to develop a campus for the school with a capacity for 900 students ranging from kindergarten to high school. The design team was also tasked to develop a campus that embodies sustainability by using low-technology solutions for ventilation and conditioning of the school spaces, while maintaining the thermal comfort levels required for students in an educational environment.
Continue reading A Damascus School Revives Traditional Cooling Techniques