Dubai infrastructure deemed “out of sync”

Experts blame improper planning for “poor design” of flagship projects.

A panel of experts have said that a lack of planning is leading to expensive re-designs and retrofits in the region’s biggest projects.

Speaking at Cityscape Global in Dubai on October 4, representatives from Gensler, Henning Larsen, and Simmons and Simmons discussed the environmental, social and cost impact of improper planning in Dubai’s flagship projects.

Ian Mulcahey, principle planning practice area leader for Gensler Worldwide said: “Lots of cities are re-thinking how a city should be planned and developed and while this is creat- ing some fantastic opportunities for development, infrastructure is clearly out of sync.”

Drawing on the example of the Dubai Metro, Simmons and Simmons partner and head of real estate in MENA, David Nunn, commented: “When you give developers responsibility, most don’t develop in an integrated way.”

“Dubai Metro needed to be built 10 years ago to serve the community. It was designed to meet demand as an afterthought,” he explained. “This is why it’s important to have this infra- structure planning — if you don’t get it right, to retrofit the city is very expensive and there is a terrible environmental impact.”

The panel also discussed how infrastructure is still being designed on needs which are based on a “different type of planning” and that some emirates, particularly Abu Dhabi, aspire to a western system which does not fit its evolution.

However, Nunn went on to praise “increasing trends for uniformity” in the region, such as the rail system, which he praised as “an excellent example of cross-boarder co-operation”.

Professor Louis Becker, international director and partner at Henning Larsen Architects, Saudi Arabia added: “I see an opportunity to move to very human schemes now and create a design which supports systems and living in a different way.”

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