Revival of The Fereej

“Fereej” is the Emirati Arabic dialect for Neighborhood – a word that carries significance in the psyche of the native population as it refers to social characteristic that have been lost in modern day developments of residential neighborhoods. This masterplan was proposed for a residential community within the center of the emirate of Sharjah as part of a larger initiative by the local authorities to revive the disparaged neighborhoods in the city center and attract Emirati families who have opted for the suburbs. The masterplan conceived to question the modus operandi of contemporary residential neighborhood planning strategies adopted in the gulf region often deploying uncritical western forms and typologies with disregard to the traditional values of the Emirati fareej.

Shaded Roof Terrace
Home Zone Principles Used for Traffic Calming
Vegetation Pinch Point
Shaded Entrance

Open Space Network

The masterplan envisions a modern community built around a network of courtyards, plazas and alleyways. The design privileges pedestrian mobility and produces a layout configured to engender social interaction between residents through offering a variety of public realm and shared open spaces. This attempts to break away from the car dominant sterile streets that modern day neighborhood planning has produced. Houses with zero lot lines are clustered around semi-public courtyards that are interconnected via a network of shaded alleyways and pedestrian paths. These alleys pour into a linear park that connects community services housing a mosque, a clinic, and a nursery to the central neighborhood park of the community.

Green Buffer Between Building Edge and Driveway
Precast Concrete Modular Construction
Alleway Leading to Central Courtyard

The design adopts the concept of Mushtaraks or Shared Roads to further enhance pedestrian safety. These are paved surfaces for vehicular movement with no vertical separation and no defined travel lanes. Asphalt or pavers are used with no curb or upstand edges. Cars, pedestrians and bikes share the same surface. Building edges are protected by providing a landscape shrub zone around the building perimeter. Bollards can be used to define areas where car entry is not allowed.

A central courtyard forms a semi-public open space shared between a cluster of houses is designed as a primary element of the housing block. This common area would house outdoor activities safe for kids and isolated from vehicular traffic. The design aspires to create a sense of community between neighbors by encouraging social interaction and allowing neighbors within the same block to mingle and interact. The landscaping is kept to a minimum to reduce maintenance and irrigation costs and features traditional elements such as a water source (sabil) or a large tree for shading.

Team: Ahmad Othman, Aneesh Illikkal, Eslam Salem, Mohamed Alsarif, Sarfaraz Ali, Monalyn Gelera, Mohammed Yasser, Raslan Al-Hawi

Client: Sharjah Department of Town Planning and Survey, U.A.E.

Collaborators: Landscape Architecture by Yoonju Kametani, Visualization by Dimatz

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A Neighborhood Park

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Al Ghubaiba, Sharjah, UAE. 2016