Liwa Physical Framework Master Plan

for a new capital city for the Western Region of Abu Dhabi

Liwa, United Arab Emirates | with SERA Architects 2009-11

Al Gharbia / Western Region

The Liwa Physical Framework Master Plan details the growth of a new city in the south of Abu Dhabi’s Western Region from what is presently a very modest settlement and commercial crossroads. The city is located approximate 60 miles south of the Arabian Gulf and 140 miles southwest of the city of Abu Dhabi. It lies near the midpoint of the Liwa Crescent, a long series of oases and date palm farms in the desert which stretches approximately 70 miles from east to west, near the border with Saudi Arabia. Culturally, Liwa is the ancestral home to many Emirati families, and it is now an important tourist destination both for Emiratis and for international visitors who come to experience the giant dunes and the stunning desert environment.

Opportunities & Constraints
Opportunities & constraints map of Liwa

The new city of Liwa will eventually be home to a population of 51,000, and will be the future seat of government for the Western Region. The city will have comfortably-scaled streets and buildings of modest massing and height. Liwa will also be a model of sustainability, meeting and exceeding Abu Dhabi’s Estidama sustainability goals. The city will generate its own electricity, with a significant portion coming from solar power. Potable water will first be conserved and then recycled many times before it is sent into the ground to replenish the fossil aquifer that lies beneath the city. The public environment will have extensive cooling features, and buildings will be designed to provide cool, shady routes for pedestrians and bicycles to move through the city. The layout of the city itself is oriented to take advantage of prevailing breezes and maximize the potential for shade.

Liwa City Center
Master Plan

Master Plan The master plan includes elements for every physical aspect of a city, from plot locations and street designs to architectural design guidelines and infrastructure systems.

The city is divided into four primary districts:

  • Maraba Liwa in the north—a low-density community designed for Emirati families;
  • The Tamani District—a low- to medium-density mixed-use district connecting Maraba Liwa to the Town Center;
  • Liwa Town Center—the heart of Liwa with medium- to high-density developments of office, retail, cultural, transportation, and residential uses;
  • The Liwa University District—located at the southern end of town and the future home of a national university and accessory administrative, commercial, and residential uses.

Liwa is expected to achieve a rating of “3 Pearls” in the Estidama New Communities System. The city is designed to be pedestrian and bicycle friendly and most of the neighborhoods are transit-oriented. Numerous open spaces and pedestrian walkways like scattered throughout the city. Materials and colors were selected with concern for durability, ease of maintenance, climate, light reflectance values, visual appeal, and comfort to the touch. Utility infrastructure systems are organized to maximize sustainability and efficiency through an eco-district approach: facilities will be positioned to serve each district with efficient collection and distribution networks.

Growth of the city is expected to occur over 20 years, in phases.

Liwa Land Use Plan
Top left: Typical residential street section. Bottom left: Maraba Liwa residential neighborhood block. Above: Typical Emirati residential parcel.
Tamani District plan view.
Liwa Town Center plan view.