The Abu Dhabi waterfront; Evolution, land use dynamics and the question of the open city
Apostolaki , Myrsini
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Waterfronts are some of the most dynamic urban elements. They reflect the inner social and morphological conditions that carve the city. They provide opportunities (such as tourism, real estate, infra networking and landmarking) and constraints (industry, waste, sea level rise). They display the historical layering of urban evolution and are key to any future projections. Furthermore, they are associated with citizens’ well-being for both physical and mental health and of course to tourism. Abu Dhabi is a city connected to the sea by its origins. Its geographical position, its brief history and rapid urban growth follow the shoreline along the Abu Dhabi Island, the mainland and all the adjacent islands. This paper is part of a research project whose objective is to identify and analyze the quantitative and spatial properties of this intricate sea-city interface through its urban history and project to its Strategic plan for future predictions. The analysis leads to a qualitative interpretation of the urban characteristics of the shoreline development through the years, and the interactive impact between the sea and the urban fabric (including social, land-use and morphological factors). The analysis results also address the trending question of the “open city” and the “accessible city”, in terms of accessibility to the sea as a major urban component, as a key factor of physical and psychological wellbeing and as a civil right.