Emmanuel Delarue established NewDesignArchitecture (NDA) in 1987. Working from Shanghai his medium sized architectural and planning firm is focussed on the development of new cities and emerging economies and has gained a large amount of experience from architecture and planning to construction details and product design. In June 2008 NDA opened an office in Dubai after two years of project delivery in the region...
The press is ablaze with talk of the current real estate crisis in Dubai. Dubai has evidently overextended itself and despite maintaining staggering growth over the past few years amidst a global financial crisis, Dubai has not been immune to it all. The hammer has fallen hard for Dubai and the crisis has the risk of seriously damaging their epic worldwide image. NDA has numerous projects underway in the Gulf region - none of those which are in Dubai have been put on hold. Fortunately NDA’s main involvement in such projects has been completed and we are
continuing working on projects in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
What does the future hold for the over-extended city?
NDA believes there is great hope- if the government can change its focus. Dubai has been relentless in its surge to create ever more elaborate real-estate projects.
The problem is: there aren’t enough people to utilize these structures properly. The Dubai government needs to focus now on making the city more attractive for tourists and technology developers. The property market was driving all other industry and when the former takes a financial blow to the head, all else is inevitably going to follow.
That being said, filling the streets with part-time tourists is really not enough to breathe sustainable life into the streets of Dubai.
The city must stop expanding and start looking within itself. For permanent residents services must be improved, small centers must be created where people can live and walk around without being exposed to the scorching heat or having to hide from it in their cars. The infrastructure for this is already in place, it just needs to be tweaked with some ergonomic and sustainable architecture. Dubai, with its luxurious resorts and shopping malls, has never truly caught the attention of middle class folk who are looking for a city to feel at home in, while expanding their own businesses.
Dubai can be that type of place for a number of reasons: the zero tax policy being a major plus-point.
Another thing that this unemotional city has forgotten, is the presence of culture. Some of Dubai’s neighbours are willing to help out financially- but what will that money be spent on?
NDA believes it should be put to work in cultivating
a strong cultural and social image. Build museums, creative center, performance houses, create clubs for the citizens, not just the tourists.
Our motto is simple – put the same amount money of the highways, crazy runabouts and no use airports… in the culture buildings, research centers, creative offices, affordable housing, waterfront commercial… you might create one of the most energizing and liveable city in the world and attract thousands of professionals and their families. Then commercial real estate will start again.
Abu Dhabi has always been just behind Dubai in its growth and has therefore had the privilege of learning from its brother’s mistakes. Abu Dhabi is planning a city-within-a-city that boasts it will be the world’s first carbon-free city. This, coupled with many other sustainable architecture projects can make Abu Dhabi a friendlier place to be for the common person.
Yet Dubai still holds the title of King of the Gulf and will continue to do so if the focus turns away from covering the sand dunes, the ocean and the sky with buildings to rather filling those buildings with people and enriching those peoples’ daily lives.
Editorial , London
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To fix their real estate and problem economy, they need to change the way they treat the 80% expatriate population. And that is a long gradual process, starting with greater transperancy, communal understanding, more benefits and just simple respect.
When you change the mindset of a city to something more positive, only then will the people give more from their heart and less from their pocket. That, I believe, will be enough to weather any financial crisis.
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