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Mon 6 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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Common values

The Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council's unveiling last month of its Community guidelines, the latest stage in its Estidama sustainability programme, proves once again just how much outdoor design has moved into the spotlight.

Common values
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The Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council's unveiling last month of its Community guidelines, the latest stage in its Estidama sustainability programme, proves once again just how much outdoor design has moved into the spotlight.

The draft guidelines, which are set to eventually become mandatory, make a number of recommendations on open space from shortening streets to proposing a minimum open space requirement of two hectares per every 10,000 people.

It's great to see formal recognition that open space and outdoor design is crucial to the success of regional developments.

But as developers themselves point out, it's not the inclusion of open space that matters, but what is done with it.

"Open space for the sake of having space doesn't create the value. What creates the value is the use of the open space, for landscaping, for example. These are things that really appeal to the end user, that drive demand and that create value for the community," Charles E Biele, executive director development at Emaar Properties, said in a recent interview.

One company that clearly does understand the value of open space is Al Barari, which has allocated a huge 80% of land to gardens and common areas in its development in Dubailand.

Speaking to Commercial Outdoor Design for our case study this month, Mohammed Bin Zaal, chief operating officer of Al Barari, said that the objective was to create a development unlike any other. "We wanted to give people space to breathe," he said.

Space to breathe is something that will increasingly appreciate in value over the next few years if the UAE swells to expectations. With the population of Abu Dhabi alone tipped to reach three million over the next two decades up from 800,000 at present, it is clear that clever use of the open space is what will enable the best developments to command a premium.

All of which is, of course, music to the ears of the region's outdoor design professionals.

Michele Howe is the editor of Commercial Outdoor Design.

RELATED LINKS:Paradise found?, Community design key to Estidama, says UPC

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