Self-Organising City v1.0 – Network Oasis
This year Intermediate 10 explored the notion of oasis as a model of urbanisation within the context of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. While engaging with the ecological processes of the oasis cities of Al Ain and Liwa, the research focused on the qualities of the desert landscape and on the re-evaluation of the local cultural heritage. The latter includes infrastructural technologies (wells and falaj systems), architectural prototypes (the black tent prototype and the oasis forts) and nomadic practices (trading and grazing routes and microclimatic adaptation).
The year started with the ‘New Babylon reloaded’ project where we re-examined nomadism as a contemporary cultural and social practice by redrawing and remodelling the famous anti-capitalist utopian vision by Constant Nieuwenhuys. The outcome became our starting point to assess and test the contradicting scenarios that we discovered during our field research. We travelled 2,000km in the Emirati region where we conceived five large-scale systemic frameworks for urban development as well as 13 related architectural prototypes – the trading hubs of a contemporary network oasis.
The Recharging City operates through distributed stations, like contemporary caravanserai, scattered along the desalinated water pipeline, while the solar desalinating dunes, algae farms and garden mosques craft a new material and cultural relationship with water. The Mist City network condenses around a series of dew-collecting stations marking the territory between Liwa and the coast while reactivating a network of ancient Bedouin routes and water wells forming emergent psychogeographic tourism. Slope City soft-engineers the iconic Jebel Afeet Mountain into a recreational playground by engaging microclimatic extremes, topographic variation and a natural spring oasis. Sarana City is a new model of an informal worker-city stimulated by the legal self-organisation of workers and addresses the dual issue of uncompleted buildings in Dubai and the unemployment of immigrant slave-workers. Eden Eden Eden City redevelops the Omani side of the Al Quattara Oasis in Al Ain by replacing the model of the fake green paradise found on the Emirati side with a stigmergic landscape animated by the pheromonal activity of the booming local sex industry.