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Competition: Cool Abu Dhabi Challenge

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Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport has launched an international contest for ideas to tackle global warming featuring a £77,000 prize fund

The Cool Abu Dhabi Challenge invites designers, architects, engineers, landscape architects, students and artists to submit ‘original and innovative’ concepts to combat the situation whereby dense urban development creates artificial conditions where temperatures are far higher than background air temperature.

It aims to identify a range of passive and mechanical solutions to this ‘urban heat island effect’ which limits the ability of residents to live active and healthy lifestyles in the United Arab Emirates’ second-largest city. The competition is part of a series of measures by the city government to mitigate the impact of climate change and enhance wellness.

In its brief, the department says: ‘For an extreme climate such as Abu Dhabi’s, the harsh conditions felt across significant months of the year certainly reduce the feasibility of such external activities taking place. It restricts people’s choices and impacts subsequent health outcomes.

‘Due to the urban heat island effect, the city centre of Abu Dhabi is estimated to be several degrees celsius warmer than the surrounding natural environment. Solar absorption and re-radiation from the surrounding context, including swaths of asphalt parking, existing surface materials, the heat released by automobiles as well as the anthropogenic heat released by cooling the buildings, and lack of air movement result in felt temperatures being much higher than the prevalent air temperature.’

Abu Dhabi is the capital of UAE and is well-known for major cultural landmarks such as Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi, Foster + Partners’ Masdar Institute, and the under-construction Guggenheim Abu Dhabi by Frank Gehry.

In recent decades, the oil-rich settlement has witnessed a surge in large-scale development, focusing largely on energy-intensive residential, commercial and vehicular infrastructure. This has led to the significantly hotter air temperature.

The latest competition aims to tackle this by identifying design interventions and material scientific innovations that could enhance human comfort and create conditions that promote wellness and reduce energy demands.

Proposals must focus on a hypothetical site surrounded by several 15-storey buildings within downtown Abu Dhabi and should introduce new aesthetics which encourage people to use the public space. Applications should include a 500-word summary, two A0-sized display boards, a 10-page A4-size brochure and a two-minute video.

Judges include Barbara Romer of New York-based Studio Romer, Rob Cooke of BuroHappold, John Fernandez from MIT, and Iyad Alaska of OMA. Ten winners, to be announced in June, will share a USD $100,000 (£77,000) prize fund and be invited to present their concepts to local policymakers.

The deadline for applications is 12 May.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

Email: info@coolabudhabi.com

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