GCC to build more mixed-use

Ar­chi­tects are see­ing in­creased de­mand for bet­ter in­te­grated de­vel­op­ments

Middle East Architect - - INTRODUCTION -

Ac­cord­ing to ar­chi­tects work­ing across the GCC, de­vel­op­ers are cur­rently look­ing to in­crease the pro­duc­tion of mixed-use projects in the com­ing years – and they are par­tic­u­larly fo­cused on bet­ter in­te­grat­ing the ‘live-work­play’ ethos.

Jonathan Lane, as­so­ciate di­rec­tor and prac­tice man­ager, plan­ning and ur­ban de­sign at Atkins, said that the sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in mixed-use de­vel­op­ments in the GCC can be most felt in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. He also noted that such projects are be­com­ing more gen­uine with their of­fer­ings, as they aim to en­sure a greater bal­ance of uses – a cur­rent chal­lenge ar­chi­tects must face over the com­ing 12 months.

“Re­tail, parks, schools, clin­ics and so on are all im­por­tant to the suc­cess of these de­vel­op­ments,” Lane said, “but over­pro­vi­sion can cause chal­lenges in terms of traf­fic, ac­cess and park­ing once the site is de­vel­oped. Over­pro­vi­sion can also drive down rents or lead to va­cancy, both of which can dam­age the im­age of an oth­er­wise suc­cess­ful de­vel­op­ment.”

Sim­i­larly, Lane said, not pro­vid­ing the op­ti­mal quan­tum and range of uses can re­duce the ap­peal of a de­vel­op­ment to po­ten­tial in­vestors. In terms of non­res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments, in­ad­e­quate bal­ance of uses can limit the ‘out of hours’ ac­tiv­ity and vi­brancy of a project, he added.

“The im­pact of in­clud­ing a broad mix of uses within an oth­er­wise com­mer­cial of­fice set­ting is clearly ap­par­ent in DIFC, Dubai, where the mix of food and bev­er­age out­lets, re­tail and res­i­den­tial uses within a com­mer­cial of­fice set­ting has had a dra­matic im­pact on the vi­tal­ity of the area after tra­di­tional of­fice hours and even dur­ing the week­ends,” he said.

The mar­ket in the re­gion is ma­tur­ing, he as­sured. Res­i­dents and in­vestors are pick­ing and choos­ing their pre­ferred de­vel­op­ment based on both the lo­ca­tion as well as the life­style of­fer­ings. While ac­cess and park­ing are es­sen­tial con­di­tions for end-user sat­is­fac­tion, the pro­vi­sion of parks, sports fa­cil­i­ties, re­tail, clin­ics, schools and other sim­i­lar fa­cil­i­ties within the de­vel­op­ment have ma­jor in­flu­ences on the suc­cess of a project in the long run.

Ac­cord­ing to James Ab­bott, di­rec­tor and ar­chi­tect at P&T Ar­chi­tects and En­gi­neers, “Mixed-use de­vel­op­ments, by their very na­ture, of­fer the best pos­si­ble way for plan­ning au­thor­i­ties, build­ing de­vel­op­ers, ar­chi­tects, en­gi­neers and other de­sign con­sul­tants to con­trib­ute to­wards achiev­ing the re­al­i­sa­tion of cities that truly pro­vide the op­ti­mal live-work-play ex­pe­ri­ence for their cit­i­zens.”

Raf­fles Square Shang­hai by P&T Ar­chi­tects and En­gi­neers

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