10 essential principles of designing resilient urban environments in the Middle East are all summed up in this image

Published: 24 September 2020 - 12:19 p.m.
By: Jane O'Neill
Global architecture, planning and design firm, CallisonRTKL (CRTKL) has revealed 10 principals that are important for designing resilient urban cities in the Middle East.

According to research by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the GCC is one of the most highly urbanised parts of the world, with 85 per cent of the population living in cities, and this is expected to rise to 90 per cent by 2050.

Factors such as climate change, behavioural change, security and health threats require the region’s cities to be prepared for the future to create happy and healthy communities.

Here are the 10 principles that resilient cities need to follow, as outlined by CRTKL:

1. Density and polycentricity
Dense urban environments operate more efficiently, walkable and have greater transportation options.

2. Mixed use
Restrictive land use regulation and the zoning approach have led to segregation, resulting in the deterioration of some neighbourhoods in the modern cities. Mixed-use urban systems create layers of communities and visitors; reducing the need for private vehicles, generating foot traffic and fostering interaction among people, which are all factors that benefit local economies.

3. Mobility
A resilient city promotes walkability and social interaction through the seamless connections between its districts.

4. Walkability and greenery
Neighbourhood plans must optimize and provide all amenities for all our day-to-day needs, this distance is widely regarded as being a 10 to 15-minute walk or 800-metre radius.

5. Identity and attraction
The enhancement of a city identity and developing a greater sense of place, the preservation of its natural assets, landscapes and cultural heritage together within rich and ever-evolving art and cultural offerings is essential.

6. Diversity, inclusivity, equality, accessibility and safety
Every urban environment should celebrate diversity and breed inclusivity. For a community to thrive and become future proof, it is vital for members to enjoy places where they feel identified, safe and accepted.

7. Affordability
Currently, governments must prioritise investment in basic infrastructure for mid-to-low-income citizens.

8. Carbon neutrality
To invert the effects of climate change, which include the rise of the sea level, hurricanes and droughts. Urban environments of the future should generate 100 per cent of their energy needs on-site and with the built environment proficiently energy efficient.

9. Technical and digital innovation
The ability to absorb, recover and prepare for future shocks depends on data availability and the capacity to analyse them promptly. If an urban environment aims to survive, it must allow data to be collected and be used responsibly. Citizens should be able to access this data in real-time and adapt their behaviour accordingly.

10. Flexibility
The principal characteristic of urban systems is their constant transformation. Communities change in time and they develop different needs and demand new services. Our neighbourhoods must be able to evolve alongside them. Flexibility is key.

Matthew Tribe, executive director at CallisonRTKL, says: “Building resilience is an expanding theme in today’s world. Now more than ever, the ability to cope and adapt to challenging and changing circumstances and emerge stronger than before is essential in helping cities navigate uncertainties.

"As such, several entities have come together to develop solutions and implement policies to drive better outcomes for local communities and residents, allowing all parties to play their part in ensuring resilience within the buildings they live, work and play in.

“At its core, resilience is made up of many factors including governance, risk assessment, education, disaster preparedness and flexibility. Technology, data and policymaking have significant roles to play in helping industry bodies to absorb future growth and soften the blow of any unexpected setbacks that may come their way. This also allows us to build back better and use the lessons learned to contribute positively to tackling larger resiliency challenges”

“The level of change and flexibility that cities need to introduce requires a willingness to turn disruptions such as COVID-19 into an opportunity for lasting change. If nothing else, the pandemic has provided an even greater incentive for the public and private sectors to come together to take rapid action that results in the building of even stronger communities than before,” Tribe concluded.

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