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Thu 27 Sep 2018 03:19 PM

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Promoting well-being through greenery, water and light design

Brand View: Research suggests that access to green urban space improves physical and mental health

Promoting well-being through greenery, water and light design
The view from your window is particularly important; according to studies it can affect both one’s physical and mental health.

Global studies have indicated that people live happier and healthier lives when they have access to green spaces. When planning a city, it is vital for the well-being of its urban inhabitants to be able to relax and unwind in a tranquil environment.

In an article by Environmental Science (Oxford Research Encyclopaedias), researcher Jenny Roe described the benefits of such nature-friendly living habitats.

“Pathways linking urban green space with mental well-being include the ability of natural stimuli – trees, water, light patterns – to promote ‘involuntary attention’ allowing the brain to disengage and recover from cognitive fatigue.” [1 – Roe, 2016]. In other words, it allows the mind to unwind, relax and recuperate from the stresses of daily life in a fast-paced city. It is, therefore, important for large city developers to offer living communities that are designed with panoramic views and access to open green spaces.

The view from your window is particularly important; according to studies it can affect both one’s physical and mental health. Research conducted by the Human Environment Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois showed that people who live in apartments with views of trees and grass, even from a distance, reported being healthier, less aggressive and more productive than those who had views of alleyways and concrete [2 – Multiple sources; University of Illinois + Beyer et al., 2014].

The survey was conducted in a large housing area of Chicago, IL - US, however the practical applications are relevant to urban planning of Dubai, which has a virtually identical size of population.

Community landscaping is an often overlooked part of residential property development as well; allocating large portions of the territory to parks, lawns, pools and fountains is seldom high on the priority list, due to low financial returns. The clear benefit to developers and owners is in creating a desirable location where people want to live. This, in turn, boosts the economic and social value of the project, delivers a greater return on investment and has the added benefit for residents in constructing an environment that improves wellbeing and contributes towards a thriving, happy community.

In terms of living space lighting, floor-to-ceiling windows in an apartment provide a much brighter and airier environment. Natural light has been linked to improved concentration and productivity, it can help maintain good health and even cure certain medical ailments [3 – Edwards + Torcellini, 2002). North Carolina State University reports that natural light has a number of benefits: it boosts your body’s vitamin D storage; leads to higher productivity; benefits vision; helps you sleep; and improves your mood [4 – Davis, 2014].

A lot has been written about the vision of the UAE, the Year of Zayed and associated plans to create a sustainable environment, where nature and humanity co-exist in harmony. The conclusion is that intelligent apartment design that is constructed within well-planned urban green communities helps people to lead a healthier and happier existence. The goal of bringing that vision to life is very heavily dependent on home-grown property developers, who need to shift their focus to providing tranquil oases for the residents of UAE.

Maher Sweid is managing partner, SWEID & SWEID, Developer of The Banyan Tree Residences – Hillside Dubai.

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