Four Tech Students to Compete in Dubai

Tech will represent the North America in Dubai international urban planning and preservation competition

Four Georgia Tech graduate students from the College of Architecture will travel to Dubai to compete in a worldwide urban planning and sustainability competition in March. The Georgia Tech team, headed by Professor Richard Dagenhart, will represent North and South America in the international competition.

The competition centers around a forum to discuss ways to preserve and revive a historical section of Dubai. The city has had massive growth in the last 45-plus years. Since 1960 Dubai's population has grown from 50,000 thousand people to more than 1.4 million.

Most of Dubai's urban areas consist of fairly new structures because of the massive population boom. However, the original settlement, which is built around Dubai Creek, has some deteriorating structures and will be the focus of the competition.

The forum is asking each university team to come up with a plan to revitalize the original settlement of Dubai while maintaining the integrity its heritage.

Georgia Tech's team is made up of four graduate students from the College of Architecture. Shauna Achey, C. Scott D'Agostino, Chad Stacy and Jeffrey Williams were all personally selected by Dagenhart to compete in the project.

"They are a diverse group," said Dagenhart. "I think they complement each other very well."

"I see it as an honor to be given the opportunity to work among such a talented group of designers and represent Georgia Tech and the College of Architecture," said Stacy.

Georgia Tech's team began its research for the competition over winter break and finished working on the presentation in the middle of January.

"It was a little more than a month of hard work," said Dagenhart. "We did a lot of initial digging around to learn more about the local traditions of Islamic architecture and cities. We wanted to understand their heritage and the history behind their architecture."

"The project has been an exciting experience so far," said Stacy. "It has challenged us to closely analyze the chronological development of the city and its relation with cultural and socioeconomic complexities of not only Deira and Bur Dubai, but also that of the Arabic region."

The Georgia Tech team then put together a plan that revolves around four central easy-to-remember concepts: Green, Cool, Inhabit and Connect.

Green refers to the idea of planting trees and creating an urban arboretum. This part of the plan also calls for parking gardens. The second part of the Georgia Tech plan utilizes the historic wind towers used in traditional housing in Dubai. These wind towers were used to cool the houses by directing the wind down the tower to cool the area below.

"We would make the wind towers public art," said Dagenhart. "They would be functioning wind towers. Some might have fans or misting towers attached to them. We want people to enjoy the heritage and art of the project."

The next portion of the plan calls for building additional housing to allow more people to inhabit the area. The housing development would use traditional Arabic forms of architecture to preserve the historic nature of the area. These houses would include courtyards and bent entries. These entries are made so that a visitor cannot see clearly into the home. Both are important elements used in traditional Arabic housing.

The last part of the Georgia Team plan is to connect the historic area of Dubai with the rest of the city. This would be accomplished through a metro transportation system (that is already in the works) and a system of water taxis and other ground transportation.

Georgia Tech's team will leave March 15 for Dubai and return on March 21.

The competition will include five universities competing from around the world representing different regions. The four other universities are South Australia (Australia), Tongji (China), Pavia (Italy) and Aleppo (Syria).

"I'm looking forward to seeing the other team's strategies for solving the issues of re-inhabiting downtown Dubai," said Stacy.