GCC to build more mixed-use
Architects are seeing increased demand for better integrated developments
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