Elliot Ouchterlony (M.Sc)

Maximo Tettamanzi (M.Sc)

Alyina Ahmed (M.Arch)

Maria Luiza Gomes Torres (M.Arch)

2019 – 2020


Urbanisation driven by population growth in the past century has caused a demand for concrete to be produced in unprecedented volumes. This rapid urban expansion is evident in the United Arab Emirates where the demand is met with contemporary planning and construction techniques typical of western development rather than drawing upon the traditional vernacular techniques of the region. The region’s vast importation of construction sand – the primary raw material in concrete – is reflective of this growth.

Riverbed sand is a diminishing resource and its extraction is often damaging to local ecosystems. This research focuses initially on the incorporation of desert sand, a vast untapped resource local to the region, into concrete production, to reduce the carbon emissions and ecological impact associated with the material.

Al Ain, a city in the UAE, is chosen as the site where this material is implemented to construct a new housing system intended for the local population, the Emiratis and the expatriate community. Sustainable principles related to urban planning, construction and cooling techniques of traditional housing are studied. These principles are incorporated in conjunction with the alternative concrete composite in order to provide a prefabricated construction system, offering housing solutions that are sensitive to the local population’s culture as well as to its environmental conditions and impact on the region.