So a breeze may cool you as you walk down the street, but what about the desert sun? Just because some wind is blowing through the town, that doesn't mean you'll be safe from the sun's dangerous rays.
Fortunately, the buildings and other important structures in Xeritown offer inhabitants more than enough cover from the hot desert sun. Most buildings are tall enough to block out the sun for most of the day, and walkways leading along shops and homes have significant overhangs, so people can walk in almost complete shade. In places where buildings don't block out the sun, big flat circles that look a little like large masses of lily pads will hang over walkways. The architects stress that palm trees or other plants won't provide shade in any way, since most vegetation in the United Arab Emirates is foreign. Bringing in extra plants would require extra water and energy to keep them alive, which would go against the entire principle of Xeritown.
Xeritown will be mainly a pedestrian neighborhood in order to reduce pollution, so the streets will have only two lanes to keep personal transportation to a minimum, and public transportation will be an important part of the area. To help generate energy, photovoltaic panels will be installed on top of the disc-like shading devices, which will absorb the sun's rays and convert them into low-voltage electricity for Xeritown. Street lamps will also use dimmable LED lighting at night.
Finally, architects plan to minimize water usage as much as possible. When water is needed for anything other than home use, grey water and industrial waste water recycling will supply irrigation systems. The landscape itself will be low-maintenance and promote the reuse of soil, and residents' homes will be equipped low water-use appliances.
Despite its best intentions, does the concept of Xeritown matter much when placed on the edge of Dubai? The city is world-famous for its incredible economic growth rate (in 2007 it was nearly twice that of China's at 16 percent), and construction cranes litter its skyline. When you compare the size of Xeritown -- less than one square mile -- with the size of Dubai as a whole -- about 1,500 square miles (3,885 square kilometers) -- it's hard to imagine the neighborhood making much of an impact. It's also located right outside of Dubailand, a place where excess, not sustainability, looks to be the keyword. For anyone concerned about the rapid growth of Dubai, Xeritown may provide a small blip of hope, but that small blip will have to spread far and wide across the rest of the city to make any significant impact -- 59 hectares (.23 miles) of solar power might not be enough.
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More Great Links
- Alter, Lloyd. "Dubai gets less dubious with Xeritown by SMAQ and X-Architects." TreeHugger.com. July 15, 2008. (Dec. 8, 2008) http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/07/dubai-gets-xeritown.php
- Colorado WaterWise Council. "Xeriscape Colorado." (Dec. 8, 2008) http://www.xeriscape.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=88&Itemid=145
- Encyclopedia Britannica. "Desert." (Dec. 8, 2008) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/158992/desert
- Europaconcorsi. "Xeritown." June 27, 2008. (Dec. 8, 2008) http://europaconcorsi.com/projects/66437-Xeritown
- Harris, Richard. "Drought forces desert nomads to settle down." NPR.org. July 2, 2007. (Dec. 8, 2008) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11608264
- Hume, Jessica. "New town to keep heat at bay." The National. July 2, 2008. (Dec. 8, 2008) http://www.thenational.ae/article/20080702/NATIONAL/374577936/1022/NEWS
- University of California Museum of Paleontology. "The desert biome." (Dec. 8, 2008)http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/exhibits/biomes/deserts.php