Text: Lara El Hashem
Photos: Christian Richters; Gehry Partners, LPP

05. Apr 2012

Exemplary
A lighting masterplan for Abu Dhabi 2030/UAE

Many people have heard of Abu Dhabi, but there are few who have taken the time to understand what this city is all about. For a long time it was cast in the shadow of Dubai, but when the Burj Dubai almost did not reach its peak during the economic crisis, it was Abu Dhabi – or to be exact Sheik Chalifa bin Zayid Al Nahyan from Abu Dhabi – who finally managed to get it built. The towering structure is now referred to as Burj Chalifa. At the same time the sheik also managed to weave his own concepts into the project. These focus primarily on sustainability. But what is it that is so fascinating about Abu Dhabi? Is it really a good example and a model for cities of the future? Or will it end up sharing the same fate as other concepts that go down as being too utopian. And last but not least: what is the basis of its approach to urban development? Is it design, energy saving or perhaps the successful combination of both?

The Abu Dhabi metropolitan area is stepping onto the global stage and positioning itself as a premier Arabian city. It is growing quickly to accommodate a diverse population of more than three million residents by the year 2030. Abu Dhabi aspires to be an international destination that welcomes visitors, businesses, and investors, while remaining firmly rooted in its rich cultural history and protecting its valuable natural resources. This vision is articulated in Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, created by Emiri Decree number 23 in the year 2007. Chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council defines the shape of the Emirate, ensuring factors such as sustainability, infrastructure capacity, community planning and quality of life, by overseeing development across the city and the Emirate as a whole.
The visionary leader knows that the key to achieving the above is channelling the know-how from internationally renowned experts. One of the main tasks was to implement a lighting masterplan to reflect the structure of the city after nightfall. In June 2010 lighting designer Martin Valentine, former Lighting Group director at Aecom in UK, was brought on board as a Lighting Expert at the executive director’s office of Abu Dhabi Municipality (ADM). He is at present behind many aspects of the city’s redevelopment project, which is headed by Acting Executive Director of Infrastructure and Municipal Assets Eng. Abdulla Saeed Alshamsi. Assigning Martin Valentine to do the job of coordinating the planned lighting projects demonstrates the Emirate’s serious intent to render the futuristic concepts they have on the table reality. […]

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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 82.

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