SHADE THE ARABIAN PENINSULA
Developed as a conceptual model for sustainable urban development, Shade is tailored to the harsh desert climate and limited material resources of the Arabian Peninsula. The buildings are constructed of compressed earth block, a highly sustainable modern construction system with ancient roots in the region. These earthen blocks, bound by clay and stabilized with a little lime, achieve their compressive strength through the hydraulic removal of air, rather than vitrification, and thus have a strikingly low level of embodied energy when the dirt is sourced locally and pressed on site. Viewed through the life-cycle lens, compared to modern lightweight systems, this heavy system dramatically diminishes energy input required for thermal comfort. At the lower levels, where it is shadier and the walls are thicker, we anticipate needing no energy input for comfort, as the vernacular work of the region provides example of. Employing mixed-use zoning at a density readily supporting frequent light-rail service, Shade is envisioned as a delightful place to live a pedestrian-oriented life. This approach leads to a more intimate scaling of the public realm of streets, sidewalks and courtyards, tailored for the enjoyment of pedestrians. The buildings are carefully arranged to compose a rich fabric of interconnected and defensible outdoor spaces. The thin tall towers act collectively to shade these outdoor spaces and each other. Thus far, Shade is a conceptual framework, the voice of one architect. As the project progresses, and other informed voices are welcomed to the design table, we will be seeking a diversity of execution within this limited palette of construction material, not yet evident in the renderings.