Gulf Encyclopedia for Sustainable Urbanism – GESU
The Harvard University Graduate School of Design has signed an agreement to lead a research project entitled Gulf Encyclopedia for Sustainable Urbanism (GESU). This holistic, multi-year, cross-disciplinary, cross-border study focusing on sustainable urbanism in the Persian Gulf region is sponsored by MSHEIREB, a subsidiary of Qatar Foundation, Qatar. Nader Ardalan is the Senior Research Associate on this Project and co-leader of the Project.
The main focus of the commissioned research is the future of urbanism in the coastal region, on a sustainable basis, both environmentally and socio-economically. The coastal region has been selected since coastal cities have an impact on each other through the water body, regardless of their own country, and Gulf region is on a key geopolitical location, amidst global trade routes and with substantial natural resources.
The methodology will be based on a rigorous understanding of the past, present and future development trajectories in the region as well as on the most current knowledge of sustainability.
The past will be analyzed to help answer how urban growth has coped with environmental conditions and society needs, while the present will examine both deviation of local traditions together with the new cosmopolitan culture in the region.
The underlying concept is that future urban growth should study and learn from the past, and understand how the present is being shaped by forces resulting from future projections and aspirations.
For the purposes of this research project, the Persian Gulf (sometimes referred to as Arabian Gulf by Arab countries and here simply as the Gulf region) is said to include the eight countries that border the Gulf: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Iran and Iraq (see Fig. 1).
By dividing the topic into three phases, the research program segments the project both thematically and through time into different volumes” (see Fig. 2).