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| 14 September, 2017

Dubai will look straight out of a sci-fi movie in 50 years

A view of Dubai at sunset showing the Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai.  Image used for illustrative purpose.

A view of Dubai at sunset showing the Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Dubai Tourism/handout via Thomson Reuters Zawya

Dubai will have more environment-friendly and sustainable buildings, community-based living and more uniquely designed buildings: Atkins design director


Remember the 2016 hit movie Star Trek Beyond? Dubai served as the film location for Yorktown, a massive space station, where USS Enterprise arrived in 2263 for resupply. That is a sci-fi movie but the futuristic look of Dubai is actually not far from it 50 years from now. Speaking to Khaleej Times at Cityscape Global, Janus Rostock, regional design director of Atkins, said this is how Dubai will look like in 2067: "We will see more autonomous vehicles, buildings with vertical forests, automated check-ins and biometric gates, laser-powered security scanners, transport-oriented development and a city with denser population but with more open and greener spaces."

Atkins, one of the leading design, engineering and project management companies in the Middle East, which helped bring to life the Burj Al Arab, the Dubai Opera, Dubai Metro and Bahrain World Trade Centre among other major projects, did a future gazing by surveying 126 of it senior architects and designers to predict Dubai's future built environment.

Rostock said Dubai will have more environment-friendly and sustainable buildings, community-based living and more uniquely designed buildings. The overarching design will be about sustainability and going back to nature.

"It will be about contextual architecture," Rostock said. "When we look at historical settlements, people built based on sustainability; they had to deal with climate and location - so we will see more designs going back that way."

Climate change

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He said this would mean utilising the prevailing winds to ventilate outdoor spaces. This can be done with structures funnelling the wind to open spaces and this would mean at least five degrees heat reduction. Climate change is also a factor to be considered so buildings will be designed with increased insulation to lower the demand for energy required for air-conditioning.

"With buildings closely built to each other, we can create permeable and walkable environment. The street grids are narrower and there will be secondary layers of access where people can walk in an air-conditioned space for a while before they can go to their destination," he said.

"The important part about sustainability is that people are thinking that high rise is not the only way to go. There will be higher density of people but it doesn't mean you only have to create high rise. We can have low and medium rise buildings with more units closer to each other," Rostock explained.

Another problem that will be addressed is the challenge of water consumption. Rostock said, at present, Dubai's water consumption is one of the highest in the world because of the sprawling development. But if people are living in a closer community, water recycling can be done more efficiently.

He said the iconic buildings will be there but they will serve as centerpieces where closely-knit low and medium rise buildings are built.

"There will be a hierarchy of spaces and building so that there will be very tall components and other structures are built around them. It creates a really good cityscape with more public realms and lovely plazas," Rostock said.

Rostock said future developments will be based on convenience and mobility.

Waste of space

"It will be a transit-oriented development [TOD]. In the future, with autonomous vehicles coming in, we can build more accessible cities. Today, around 30 per cent of build up area is for parking - that's a waste of space - and parking spaces create barriers," he said.

He said, in the future, fewer people will own cars as they would prefer ride sharing. "We will also see driverless cars linked together like a Metro line that will make transportation faster and more efficient. Social infrastructure is also key. So future developments will be mixed-used where schools, hospitals and other important services are incorporated in the master development," he added.



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