Dubai-based X-Architects masterplanning for the Al Naseem project in Al Ain will be used as a reference project by Abu Dhabi-based Estidama, according to the local practice.
"Estidama is the new authority in Abu Dhabi and they are recognising projects based on sustainability in this part of the world," said Farid Esmaeil, founding partner at X-Architects.
"This is the one of the first projects that has met all requirements of Estidama and has been approved by it as being sustainable in terms of its criteria. It will also be used as a reference for other projects that will go for Estidama approvals," he told Emirates Business.
Al Naseem will be a live project to assess Estidama's draft construction guidelines that have a point-based rating system to examine a wide range of sustainable design criteria like land use, water and energy use, environmental quality, transport, pollution and so on.
The project is being developed by Al Qudra and is spread over a 30-acre area. "We have got the approval for the schematic design. We are starting the initial stages of the project and have now moved into the detailed masterplanning stage," he said.
The massing is close and the project is compact. It creates pedestrian walkways, which are shaded so that people do not have to walk much in the sun. "It is a compact city and hence it is more sustainable," said Esmaeil. Besides, the facades are exposed to north and south, while the massing is east-west. "Due to the facades facing north-south, the buildings will get less light. In the east and west, we have more solidity to control the heat and light," he said.
Al Naseem is a mixed-used development with all necessary amenities such as a mosque, a woman's club and libraries. "The project is low density. Again, in Al Ain, you cannot build higher than around 20m, which is G+3 or 4," said Esmaeil. "But what is unique about it is that the project is responsive to the environmental, social and cultural aspects of Al Ain."
The masterplanning is community oriented rather than the "isolated kinds of developments that are only residential or only commercial", he said. "The idea was to have a mixed programme, which will house the commercial aspects of the project on the ground floor," he said. "The mosque will be located in a central plaza, which is typical of Islamic cities where the mosque is in the centre of the city and becomes a place for people to have social interactions. It will be a truly sustainable project."
Again, the landscaping in the project will use indigenous and regional types of plants that will not need much water, he said. "It will use grey-water for irrigation.
X-Architects was founded in 2003 in Dubai by Ahmed Al Ali and Farid Esmaeil.