Abu Dhabi Climate Resilience Initiative
The Abu Dhabi Climate Resilience Initiative is a citywide public realm improvement program focused on improving pedestrian thermal comfort levels in an outdoor, desert climate through a series of tactical urban interventions. The program introduces three prototypical climate intervention pilots focused on human comfort, passive design, and replicability: a pocket park, mosque plaza, and urban intersection. Employing climate science, extensive urban research, and rigorous testing, the Initiative implements a combination of climate-sensitive strategies to reduce urban heat island effects in an environmentally responsible way. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, the pilots integrate multiple cooling strategies based on careful analysis of each site. The multi-layered design strategy simultaneously addresses direct and indirect solar gain, wind channeling, evaporative cooling, and use of local materials. With a focus on everyday public spaces frequented by a diverse demographic, the pilots aim to efficiently improve human comfort. Redefining the traditional public realm approach, the pilots optimize pedestrian comfort levels during shoulder periods – rather than targeting extreme summer heat – expanding the duration of time public spaces can be used, while inducing the least thermal stress. According to post-occupancy data, this data-driven, evidence-based approach successfully lowered the universal thermal climate index (UTCI) by approximately 9-10 degrees at each pilot site within the targeted timeframe. This proven methodology can be used to significantly inform resiliency efforts in cities worldwide.