Our Collaboration

In 2018, Sidara, under CEO Talal Shair, began a collaboration with the Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism (LCAU) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) with the goal of advancing the fields of architecture and urban planning. This collaboration demonstrates our commitment to engage in groundbreaking research with the potential to influence urban development globally.


The union symbolizes a shared vision for making significant contributions to the architectural and urban planning landscape, highlighting the importance of innovation and progress in these areas.

Sidara Urban Research Seed Fund
Sidara's Urban Seed Fund is aimed at advancing the fields of architecture and urban planning. Drawing on Sidara's expertise in engineering and project management and MIT's research capabilities, Sidara’s ambition is to invest in research that will help to create more sustainable and liveable cities, with the opportunity to influence urban development globally.

Since its inception, the Sidara Urban Seed Fund has championed two funding cycles, spanning 2019-2021 and 2021-2023, supporting a total of eight multi-year research initiatives.
150 Holborn Street View

Round 3 - Request for Projects

Sidara is launching the third round of its research funding with the LCAU at MIT, focusing on how best to use generative AI, digital twins, and AR/VR technologies to reimagine cities.  The aim of the new projects is to develop the role of technology in solving urban planning challenges such as environmental issues, energy usage, and citizen preferences, and to generate new solutions that surpass human design.

As part of this round, Sidara will fund four additional technology-based projects between 2024 and 2026, with the first two scheduled to commence in September. The projects will be anchored at Sidara’s London headquarters at 150 Holborn, selected for its dynamic urban environment that will provide an ideal space to test new solutions while offering access to European markets and an international talent pool.

Round 2 Projects

Funding Cycle - 2021 to 2023


Integrated Recovery: Towards a Resilient Beirut

The devastating explosion in Beirut in August 2020 caused significant destruction, exacerbating Lebanon's existing crises and highlighting the urgent need for recovery and reconstruction efforts. This situation presented a critical opportunity for research to guide the city's rebuilding process, focusing on resilience, sustainability, and improved urban planning to overcome the challenges posed by this disaster and ensure a better future for Beirut.

This second round of funding focused on projects in Beirut related to urban risk, equitable resilience, land use and urban fabric around the port, affordable housing and historic preservation, transportation, public space, and public health. The aim was to integrate research outcomes into a comprehensive reconstruction framework in collaboration with local partners to ensure impactful and grounded solutions for Beirut's recovery.


Community shared space

Port-Facing Hill

Explores housing as infrastructure in the neighborhood of Mar Mikhael and proposes a novel urban strategy that anchors housing within a corridor of shared open space.
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Port of Beirut

Beirut Port Futures

This project explores the port's history, envisions its potential future, and presents different perspectives on reconstruction.
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Community Streets Bus Transportation

Community Streets

This project identifies pedestrian-friendly street improvements in neighborhoods near the explosion site to encourage sustainable mobility.
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Living Heritage Atlas Group

Living Heritage Atlas

A design-based research project that renders visible the often-unrecognized social heritage of craftsmanship in contributing to urban planning.
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Environmental data streets

City Scanner

A platform that uses existing road vehicles to collect research-grade environmental data and empower communities.
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Round 1 Projects

Funding Cycle - 2019 to 2021


Equitable resilience: Designing for Tomorrow’s Cities

Urban areas in arid and semi-arid regions are addressing climate change through innovative urban design and planning, striving to create environments that are livable, efficient, and resilient. The primary goal of Round 1 funding was to reimagine the evolution of cities to meet these demands, ensuring their vibrancy and resilience amid escalating climate volatility.

The emphasis lies on leveraging digital technologies for urban management, constructing urban systems that integrate equity and resilience, and developing digital platforms for public participation in planning. These priorities are directed towards adapting urban infrastructure, bolstering civic engagement, and employing data-driven strategies to confront and anticipate future environmental challenges.


Living Data Hub Nairobi

Living Data Hubs

Creating a community-owned and managed wireless living data hub in Nairobi’s Kibera to address gaps in critical data infrastructure.
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Sculpted Skeletons concrete housing

Sculpted Skeletons

Leveraging technology and circular materials to produce cost-effective and structurally optimized concrete housing in the Middle East. 
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Extreme heat events in urban environments

Equitable Heat-Resilience

Providing urban planners with location-specific, evidence-based assessments of measures to mitigate life-threatening heat events.
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Planning schemes for urban flooding

Swap Strategy

Creating a comprehensive, disaster-resilient, adaptive reuse scheme to address urban flooding risks along the Ayamama River corridor.
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Connect with us

Collaboration is core to our success and we're here to help you find solutions to your most pressing challenges. Together, we can achieve more for our communities, change how people live, and inspire global impact.