Abu Dhabi’s Sustainability Week Launches

Meet Wendy
Meeting “Wendy”

An explosion of blue nylon fabric and scaffolding landed on Abu Dhabi’s waterfront this week. The project, called “Wendy” by New York architects HWKN, is a self-described “air-purifying structure” and an attention grabbing educational icon for a week’s worth of activity surrounding Abu Dhabi sustainability week.

The structure, originally installed at New York’s PS1 gallery, cools the air around it with a fine mist of water, serves as a performance and party space, and offers thought-provoking anecdotes on architecture and sustainability. It is also covered with a “fabric treated with a groundbreaking titania nanofilm to neutralize airborne pollutants.” Specifically, the fabric is designed to react with nitrogen oxides, removing them from the air.

The latter claim may be more symbolic than practical, but symbolism is important when it comes to promoting sustainability – especially in the middle of the world’s most oil-rich region. Driving cultural change requires powerful symbols if it is to get anywhere.  As such, Wendy is a great symbol for the week to come…

Kicking off by the time you read this will be one of the largest sustainability gatherings in the world.  I’ll be spending most of my time attending the main proceedings of the World Future Energy Summit – with more than 30,000 participants from 150 countries. There will be more heads of state than you can shake a stick at. France’s president, Francois Hollande will keynote the opening session along with addresses from many others.

Additionally, I’ll be attending the Zayed Future Energy Prize ceremony Tuesday night. The prize, in its 5th year, honors the rock solid efforts of sustainability champions, companies, and entrepreneurs worldwide to the tune of $4 million annually. This year’s finalists can be seen here. There’s nothing symbolic about the efforts the prize will be honoring, regardless of the winner.

Follow along this week for all of the above as well as some exclusive interviews.

Travel expenses to Abu Dhabi were provided by Masdar, the main organizer of WFES.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.