Wadi Urbanism- From Threat to Resources

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Submission Summary
This research explores the dynamic landscape potentials of Wadis located in the arid region, in terms of integrating Wadis within an urban context. Wadis are often perceived as an obstacle when it comes to urban planning rather than seeing it as an opportunity, which can advance the quality of urban space. This is because Wadis are often prone to Wadi Flash Floods (WFFs) hazards, which results in prohibiting any building activities to take place within making it a ‘‘no go area’’, so it is often considered as ‘‘Reduced Economical Value’’.However, floods in arid wadis are an essential source of water, particularly for groundwater recharge. Without undertaking the proper mitigation measures of adopting these neglected intrinsic potentials we will not be able to transform it into a unique urban quality nor overcome the outraging water scarcity crisis which needs an urgent swift action. A paradigm shift towards water conservation and reuse and integrating the natural existing landscape in an urban context is striving recently. Accordingly, the growing number of urban design examples where water and landscape is the main design drive forms the development highlights and places ‘Wadi Urbanism’ as a trend. Egypt is one of the arid countries that suffers from the effects of WFFs in the coastal and Nile River dry wadis. Also with the growing population currently the Egyptian government offers a 20 massive new cities program to accommodate 30 million people and reclamation of about 2 million acres towards the inland desert, so far with limited success. However, limited water resources led to considering alternatives to water sources such as wadi reclamation. In this light, the agriculture development in the north-western coastal region using rain-fed systems became one of the most important incomes in the area. The research introduces water resilient planning and alternative design approach to the conventional defensive flood-control solutions. Contextualizing the leanings from theories and practices within a Wadi escape context analysis and case studies. The research integrates international ‘Water Sensitive Urban Design’ (WSUD) guidelines, along with other spatial urban design strategic tools at regional and architectural scale. These studies informed the proposed ‘Wadi Urbanism Guidelines’ (WUGs) –a regenerative design strategy used to take the advantage of natural dynamic Wadi landscapes and transform it into a living system. It offers comprehensive ecological and environmental services including: local food production, flood water management, habitat creation combined in a public open space and aesthetic forms. The research then reflects these recommendations on Wadi Kharouba, Marsa Matrouh city, one of the Mediterranean coastal regions. Wadi Kharouba have been chosen due to the realization of ‘Wadi Kharouba Rehabilitation Project’ developed by a joint collaboration between national and international institutions and the increasing focus of agricultural developments using rain-fed systems in the area. However, so far the initiatives done covered only utilizing fertile Wadi-bed in cultivation through implementing Water Harvesting Techniques. Moreover, future sustainable agricultural expansion demands looking beyond only cultivating the lands it is necessary to develop a cohesive socio-economic and sustainable ecosystems, where Wadis are not just an agriculture backyard but as a holistic urban setting. Therefore, the proposal intends to bridge the gap between Wadi lower level as a productive landscape and its upper plain introducing an integrative urban design approach. Finally, the research concludes with a set of WU guidelines as a proposed alternative model from conventional desert city planning to regenerative desert planning. A model that showcases Wadis as a design tool transforming landscape into different forms such as: productive landscape, leisure parks, green spaces, public spaces and last but not least as a major water resource.
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Special Track: The Future of Hot Cities
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MSc. Architecture Engineering (Architecture & Urban Design), Researcher and Lecturer assistant in the German University in Cairo
German University in Cairo (GUC)
Assoc. prof. Architecture and Urban Design
German University in Cairo (GUC)
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