By Design-Ways to Beat the Heat-Lessons from Abu Dhabi

Fast Company 6.13.21|IMPACT|”What U.S. cities can learn from Abu Dhabi about surviving record heat” By Adele Peters



Image not from the Fast Company article. Graphic from static.straittimes.com.sg illustrates similar and other solutions used in Singapore to cope with higher ambient temperatures.



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Summary provided by 2244


July afternoons in Abu Dhabi are hot-”well over 100 degrees” so urban architects have adopted designs “to make it possible to stay comfortable outside.” For parks “A canopy with roller shades can be closed during the day, and opened at night to allow heat to escape.” Other features include; “benches...partly shaded by nearby buildings, with another canopy structure overhead for extra shade, ...carefully placed walls help channel a breeze through the park and block heat from traffic, strategically placed misting devices spray water in the air, [and] native plants offer evaporation-and a psychological perception of coolness.”


As our American summers are increasingly hotter such landscape architecture could help us cope and actually get more enjoyment from our long summer days. No doubt Abu Dhabi and in general The Middle East have been applying these solutions for years and now cities like Boston are starting to incorporate these designs as well. The ideal approach considers each microclimate-needs for shading street crossings are different than dealing with courtyards that are shaded “at certain times of day” [but may] “either block or help the flow of wind” at other times. Features that cool the environment like trees and green space must be considered along with features that add heat to the environment like pavement, vehicle traffic, and air conditioner outflow.


Heat alleviating elements should now be part of all new developmental designs by placing buildings in such a way to “keep the sun out, shade public spaces, and take advantage of prevailing winds, and green spaces…” When planning, the entire local environment must be considered. For example, painting a street white, lowers the temperature of the pavement but reflects heat on to “pedestrians and buildings nearby.” Ideally summer solutions can also be winter solutions-shade in summer and coverage from rain and snow in winter etc.