Redefining Abu Dhabi’s Public Spaces: Urban Classification and Social Interaction, ADEK Excellency Award

Project summary

Conducted by a research team composed of Dr. Hadrien Dubucs, Dr. Apostolos Kyriazis and Dr. Clio Chaveneau and with the participation of four BA and MA students of SUAD and ADU, the research projected aimed at conducted an ambitious fieldwork, with systematic observations of 14 public places in Abu Dhabi city. The project had two main objectives: 1. A renewed practice-based typology of the public spaces in Abu Dhabi Metropolitan Area 2. A analysis of the role of public places in the city making process. Our research has resulted in a multi-purpose database of visual data, maps and observation reports for 14 places in Abu Dhabi. The results have consistently demonstrated that beyond their functional features and purpose, the public spaces fulfil a range of social needs and take a crucial, yet sometimes complex or unexpected, part in the urban social life.

In short, our findings are related to the following aspects: 1. A need for a right balance between informality and functional efficiency. 2. A crucial lever towards making the city more “inclusive”, with an inclusiveness relying on a fine combination of large-scaled accessibility, small-scaled spatial features, and uses’ regulation where official rules interplay with social representations. 3. A dramatic variation depending on the time and on the season, that argues in favour of a more flexible and adaptable conception of the public spaces, in terms of equipment, opening hours or activities.

Project dates



Abu Dhabi University


ADEK Excellency Award
Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi