By Gerhard Hope
One of the themes at the World Architecture Congress at Cityscape Global 2010 was ‘sustainable infrastructure’, and how this impacts on master planning and urban frameworks.
One of the themes at the World Architecture Congress at Cityscape Global 2010 was ‘sustainable infrastructure’, and how this impacts on master planning and urban frameworks. Professor Louis Becker, international director and partner at Henning Larsen Architects, said “many of the bigger projects started out as building type models and designs that were transformed into plans afterwards.
“The slowdown has given us a chance to focus differently, to do the plans in a way where you design the urban spaces upfront, and also have a kind of hand in or opinion about the buildings to be supplied for the right spaces – to support the overall vision of the plan. A question to be raised is will you tie up with traditional history? Or will it be totally international? Could you benefit from the history?
“I think the chance here is for planning to do exactly that. I see an opportunity to move to human scales; I see an opportunity to create the density that also supports sustainability and much more viable solutions, introducing green in a more responsible way. We need to look at the vision of these plans, and not be completely influenced by international architects.”
“I certainly think if you look back to 2003-04, in many cities in the region there was almost a planning vacuum,” said Gensler UK principal Ian Mulcahey. “There was a process, but it was not largely followed. What happened was developers tended to develop physical masterplans almost as a way of establishing their own regulations, and actually that’s a process I think worked pretty well in the region, if you take it to its natural conclusion and actually create some formalised system in the future.
“Yes, you can plan freestanding projects, but the problem is when you start to join them together, and the cumulative impact of those projects. That is why I still think in this region the focus on infrastructure is a huge priority, and an infrastructure land-use plan is definitely the way we should be focusing.”
“In terms of infrastructure and planning, I would have thought that most people would accept that the Dubai Metro should have been built something like ten years before it was, because in the sense of the communities it intended to serve, it would have been a better product,” said David Nunn, partner at Simmons & Simmons MENA. “It was an afterthought, albeit a very necessary afterthought. It is important to get this infrastructure planning right as a key element of developmental planning going forward. If you do not get that right, it is highly inefficient, as to retrofit a city with appropriate infrastructure is expensive and destructive to the people in the city – indeed it has its own environmental impact.”
“It is a real challenge to get the infrastructure right … Infrastructure often lags development. The world really is filled with examples of standalone developments. It is really a very difficult challenge because they sell exclusiveness, and it does not always allow for the porosity one would like in the urban city,” concluded American Institute of Architects President George H. Miller.
Gerhard Hope, is the editor of MEP Middle East.