The Impact of Different Urban Configurations on Outdoor Thermal Comfort: A Case Study of the Military Camps in Abu Dhabi, UAE

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
One of the major challenges facing the urban planning sector is the rapid pace of growth of the world‘s urban populations. In particular, the urban, economic and institutional conditions of Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are unique. However, Abu Dhabi is a significant case study of conflict between political, economic, and urban design in terms of large- scale project planning that makes this city suffer from the negative impact of urbanism. This is known as the Urban Heat Island (UHI) of urban settings. Military camps are different from other standard urban settings: the urban design of camps aims to provide an integrated approach to security, transformation and environmental challenges. The balance between security and prosperity through sustainability will be addressed in this research. This research aims to study the impact of different urban configurations of forms, courtyard proportion, height and orientation on outdoor thermal comfort, particularly, the reduction of air temperature and influence of wind conditions. Computer simulation was preferred as the main methodology in this research and ENVI-met 4.0 software was used as the main simulation tool. The investigations in this research were performed in three Phases. Phase One focused on identifying the most favourable urban configuration in terms of thermal behaviour out of six different proposals: existing linear blocks with a rectangular courtyard; proposed fortress blocks with a square courtyard; proposed fortress blocks with a rectangular courtyard; proposed U-shape blocks with a square courtyard; proposed L-shape blocks with a square courtyard; and proposed developed linear blocks with a rectangular courtyard. In Phase Two, three different heights were applied iii on the most favourable and existing urban configurations. Phase Three investigated the impact of orientation in identifying the optimal urban configuration for military camps. Simulation outcomes confirmed that developed linear F with three storeys and a courtyard proportion of 12:12 (length:height) has the best thermal behaviour and is considered as the most favourable urban configuration. The results show that north west–south east orientation provides the most comfortable outdoor environment. The findings from the three phases of the research showed that selecting the optimal urban configuration decreases air temperature by 2 °C from 33.6 to 31.54 for the base case and the most favourable developed linear from F respectively. Also, it was concluded that both height and orientation had negligible effects in comparison to urban form and courtyard proportion on reducing air temperatures in this particular study. One main conclusion is that bioclimatic urban design can be used to achieve a significant improvement of outdoor thermal comfort. For instance, three storey buildings, orientation of north west–south east, and developed linear building form can be considered as the most favourable building prototype in military camps in Abu Dhabi. However, the behaviour of the outdoor parameters remains quite multifaceted and unpredictable and requires further research.
urban configurations, outdoor thermal comfort, military camps, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), bioclimatic urban design