Over the past several months, the Sharjah Urban Planning Council (SUPC) and the American University of Sharjah College of Architecture, Art and Design (AUS) have been meeting in an effort to launch the Sharjah Communities Improvement Project that would benefit the communities in the emirate. After thought-provoking discussions, SUPC Staff and the AUS Project Team have initiated the first community improvement project, which would identify the needs of the emirate’s residential areas, provide an existing conditions assessment and create a plan and strategy for improvement.
The project will help SUPC achieve its vision to “manage change and growth by optimising Sharjah's urban development goals”. In addition, this cooperation with AUS will improve coordination efforts and increase involvement with academic institutions and the youth demographic. Thus, AUS will provide opportunities for students to work on a project with real-world implications.
The project will study existing conditions and look for possibilities where the community can be improved. Students are expected to gather community input and the best international practices to develop an improvement strategy that is designed for the existing framework and can overcome its challenges. The final deliverable will be a multi-faceted plan that includes different levels of intervention but will ultimately benefit the owners, businesses and residents of the areas.
Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Urban Planning Council, comments on the program: “SUPC is pleased to be partnering with AUS and its talented students to help communities in Sharjah. Through their efforts, AUS will further the vision of SUPC by improving the livability of the emirate and enhancing the community through the knowledge acquired over the years.”
Likewise, Eng. Khalid Mohammed Al Ali, Secretary-General of the Sharjah Urban Planning Council, said: “This unique form of partnership between SUPC and AUS will benefit the community of Sharjah, in-line with our vision and mission. We believe that the Communities Improvement Project has a twofold impact: to improve the surroundings in targeted areas and provide students with a hands-on experience in urban planning – both of these will be advantageous for Sharjah as a whole.”
The study will help develop a set of solutions to ensure the best utilisation of resources in urban areas, placing special emphasis on upgrading the old residential areas to accommodate current and future aspirations of the residents.
Professor Rafael Pizarro of AUS comments on the purpose of the project: “Collaborating on a community project such as this with SUPC’s experienced team and knowledge base has been a dream come true for our Master program students. The project will provide valuable experiences for their degree in Urban Planning. Moreover, students will be encouraged to use their creativity for the hands-on community outreach task. For the remainder of the school year, the students will be able to learn ‘beyond the textbook’.”
“This partnership and initiative of Residential Areas and Rehabilitation of Old Areas in Sharjah” is an integrated programme that fits within the SUPC's vision to improve the quality of life for all residents and to develop public spaces throughout the emirate.