The Morphology of Abu Dhabi’s Superblocks: A Modernist Vision
Al Seri, Ibrahim
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Abu Dhabi’s transition from a fishing village to a contemporary capital city in less than 50 years is more than remarkable. Its rapid growth, fueled by oil revenues and combined with a real estate frenzy and an overmanaged public space is reflected into the main characteristic of Abu Dhabi’s urban morphology: the Superblocks. This paper is part of a wider Research program regarding the Urban Regeneration initiative for the Superblocks as it derives from Abu Dhabi’s Strategic “2030 Plan”. It examines their origins and evolution that swings between raw pragmatism and specific modernist influences. It also argues in favor of an alternative regeneration approach that could be based on this modernist heritage and furthermore apply bottom-up participatory procedures to reinforce the city’s shallow collective memory. To the support of that argument, a case study of a specific Superblock will be presented. The analysis of its morphological properties, their drawbacks and opportunities may forge a new regeneration pathway. One that rises from the individual plot to the urban scale, actively engages the end users and leads to more flexible/less formal urban action. A potential success may function as a pilot for other Superblocks to follow and also as a regeneration paradigm for other GCC cities to activate their social, historic and cultural capital.