Case Study: Al Ruwais City

A new city for the UAE's empty quarter


OTHER CASE STUDIES: Djamaa el Djazair, AlgeriaSalam Centre, SudanAbu Dhabi Investment Council HQ

Architect: RNL
Client: Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council
Location: Abu Dhabi

The project
This massive master plan project has been drawn up by design firm RNL for Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council. The 27km2 development will be a brand new city for Al Gharbia, including a harbour and marina, as well as housing, schools, retail and recreation facilities capable of supporting a growing population. Ruwais will also continue to be a support centre for the tourist islands of Delma and Sir Bani Yas, as well as a national hub for the energy industry.

The development is in line with the Al Gharbia 2030 plan, which seeks to increase the population by creating a new industrial hub in the Western Region. The Urban Planning Council (UPC) will invite developers and designers to submit proposals for each of the individual plots at the end of the summer.

The site
Al Gharbia is already home to some 16,000 workers and their families employed at the nearby ADNOC oil company headquarters, but the Ruwais City site is currently an empty tract of desert some 240km west of Abu Dhabi. Situated on the sea front, RNL hopes that the city will become a regional hub, expanding alongside the region’s main industry, energy.

The concept
Ruwais City will include a town centre, a waterfront district and hill top neighborhoods, catering to a varied range of inhabitants, from large families to single professionals. The plan will offer a range of residential options, with a spread of price points that will attract a diverse population.

The centre of the city and the waterfront is designed to be pedestrian friendly, in line with the Abu Dhabi and Al Gharbia 2030 plans, while transport links to residential areas are paramount. The waterfront will include a marina and ferry facilities to the Delma and Sir Bani Yas. A minimum 100 metre-wide coastal preservation buffer will be established along the gulf foreshore, providing a recreation amenity and protecting the fragile coastal eco-system.

The details
Patrick McKelvey, senior principal at RNL, explained that Ruwais City fit in well with the Al Gharbia 2030 plan. “There is a lot going on out there,” he said. “It has become a focal point for planned expansion, and this is one of the first steps of the 2030 plan, to put together these frameworks.”

The plan incorporates passive sustainability strategies based on local wind and solar conditions. Streets and open spaces have been aligned and sized to channel breezes, improving air quality, thermal comfort and minimising heat build-up within the city. They also will flush the city with cooler air at night for energy savings and improved thermal comfort through the earlier portion of the day. The RNL-designed Ruwais Masterplan limits the use of water, a defining characteristic of sustainable communities in Al Gharbia.

The Ruwais development will be a pedestrian oriented multi-modal community, with transit, pedestrian and bicycle access integrated into the circulation plan. A clear hierarchy of streets and access alternatives will form the framework of the Masterplan. Walk-ability is key, particularly in the town centre and waterfront areas.

The marina, or waterfront district, will include tourist- based leisure facilities, recreation and medium-to-high density residential housing as well as retail.

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