News | July 28th 2021

Surviving Urban Heat: The Abu Dhabi Climate Resilience Initiative

With temperatures on the rise, the impacts of urban heat island – once considered an invisible threat – have become much more apparent and increasingly dangerous in North American cities. It is imperative that urban planners, designers, and policymakers consider holistic, multipronged approaches to mitigating urban heat in order to create livable city environments. CBT’s dedication to climate research paired with the firm’s established presence in the Middle East has provided opportunities to pursue international collaborations and further explore creative mitigation strategies in some of the world’s hottest climates – where extreme urban heat has long been a challenge – as well as identify how these global approaches could inform domestic resiliency strategies. 

As a result of this extensive research and collaboration, CBT is proud to unveil the Abu Dhabi Climate Resilience Initiative, a citywide public realm improvement initiative focused on increasing pedestrian comfort levels through tactical interventions. The project introduces dynamic design solutions which respond to specific thermal, geographical, and cultural conditions of the site to create cool spots and pathways which enhance overall public comfort. Embracing a multilayered approach to climate intervention which combines a number of resiliency strategies in an environmentally responsible way, the Initiative serves as an example of the type of the design that could help cities around the world deal with extreme heat. 

CBT Principal, Director of Urban Design, and resident expert in designing for extreme temperatures, Kishore Varanasi has elevated this discussion to a top priority and crucial topic in today’s conversations on climate change. He has emerged as a knowledgeable spokesperson and sought-after source in resilient design and the creation and preservation of livable urban spaces. 

Below is some recent media coverage of CBT’s Abu Dhabi Climate Resilience Initiative and approach to designing for extreme heat:

Fast Company discusses “What U.S. cities can learn from Abu Dhabi about surviving record heat” in a recent interview with Kishore. The piece not only explores lessons learned from testing various climate interventions in Abu Dhabi, but also emphasizes the importance of tailoring mitigation strategies to the specific neighborhoods for which they are designed rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach. 

The World Economic Forum named the Abu Dhabi Climate Resilience initiative among the “best innovations for our heating planet” in their recent video “5 lessons from hot cities on surviving heat.” Featuring images from the Abu Dhabi Climate Resilience Initiative, the video highlights a pilot pocket park inspired by a traditional “sikka,” or pathway between buildings, which is oriented to maximize breezes.