Dubai’s urban identity

Charting Dubai’s growth is no easy task, with many developers throwing their own plans into the mix.

“Dubai’s challenge is that it has been master planned, like some other cities around the world with a rapid population growth,” says Benjamin Piper, Partner and Design Principal at Killa Architectural Design. “Before, cities grew organically in a down-to-top approach, while these days planning is required, which is a top-todown approach.”

He adds: “How can any design consultancy by itself understand and model a future-proof city and allow freedom for individual developers? Eventually, an urban master plan is always finished off by future generations.”

Janus Rostock, Regional Design Director for Middle East and India at Atkins, points out the lack of cohesiveness as master-planned projects were developed independently of each other. “Each master planner did its own thing. We have a lot of cities with tarmac in between. We need to see them knitted together,” says Rostock.

Going green will be integral to Dubai’s new urban landscape. “Dubai’s target is to have 19 sq m of greenery per person,” said Engineer Abdulla Rafia, Assistant Director General of Planning and Engineering at Dubai Municipality (DM) at the recent Big 5 Design Summit.

Projects such as the Dubai Opera House are a good starting point in reinforcing the city’s authentic identity, but old communities must also retain their flair. “Places such as Satwa should not be bulldozed to the ground, but it is better to work with the existing fabric, as these places exude the charm people like,” says Rostock.

Rashad Bukhash, Director of the Architectural Heritage Department at the DM, agrees. “The vision is to restore 180 to 190 buildings by mid-2018. We’ve already conserved over 120. These represent only 1 per cent of Dubai; the rest is new.

“We don’t expect architects to put wind towers on top of new houses, but to integrate an interpretation of Dubai’s traditional architecture into their own modern language when designing new buildings.”

Source: Nicole Walter, Special to PW


For Rent


View more properties

For Sale


View more properties