Xeritown and Xeriscaping: Location, Location, Location
The architects behind Xeritown -- a collaboration between SMAQ in Berlin, X Architects in Dubai, Johannes Grothaus Landscape Architects in Potsdam, Germany, Reflexion in Zurich, Switzerland, and BuroHappold in London -- used the landscaping philosophy that has caught on in several dry parts of the world known as xeriscaping.
Originally developed for areas suffering from intense drought, xeriscaping offers landscapers unique ways to conserve water and reduce maintenance. By using native plants that have adjusted to an area's climate (bringing in exotic plants typically requires more water usage for upkeep) and arranging them in efficient ways to make the best use of water runoff, developers can create an area that extends important water supplies. On top of that, the xeriscaped areas are designed to look good, and they don't require a lot of work to maintain. It's caught on in many parts of the world, even in places where the climate isn't typically dry, mostly because people are looking for new ways to cut back on the costs associated with water and energy usage.
Xeritown aims to be efficient, but on an even bigger and broader scale that includes buildings, streets and the general infrastructure of the development. The desert elements of Dubai's inland region will work with the design of Xeritown, not against it. Instead of forcing a plan upon a dry area of land and having to waste lots of energy to make it hospitable, the neighborhood's architects are using natural and man-made solutions that promote cooling, water recycling techniques and energy saving.
The first major part of the plan that has an effect on the area's environment simply involves its layout. If you look at Dubai on a map, you'll notice it lies right off of the Persian Gulf. Many of the city's most infamous projects, including the giant man-made Palm Islands (viewable from space), of course, are located near the coast. To keep the entire area cool, architects have shaped Xeritown along a north-south axis. This takes advantage of cool breezes coming in from the sea, which are sucked in between "islands" of development. Hot wind from the desert, on the other hand, is pushed up and over the town by low rise buildings and towers to avoid heating Xeritown's inhabitants. As people walk through Xeritown, they should experience cooler air instead of a stifling, hot atmosphere.