Designing Happy Cities in the Middle East

Building for the People

The environment we create for people to live, work, and play is important to maintain the happiness meter to a healthy level. Especially in the United Arab Emirates, where expats are away from the comforts of home.

On a recent event hosted consultancy by giant AESG and as reported by Construction Week Online, the longstanding benefits of proper urban plan  ning is key in creating cities that promote holistic health for people who interact with the space.

“Cities impact both the physical and mental health of their residents,”Phillipa Grant, AESG’s Head of Energy and Sustainable Development explains during the recent ‘Designing for Healthy, Happy Cities’ event in Dubai. Furthermore, she mentioned the importance of outdoor spaces, eliminating pollution, opportunities to connect, safety, and security.

Exhibit A: Spacious communal pantry area built by KOJ Interiors for Dragon Oil Headquarters

Exhibit B: Celebrating nature with the fit out works in Nutri Bowl, Studio City

Exhibit C: Kamal Osman Jamjoom’s solar powered warehouse facility in Dubai Investment Park 2

One of the consequences of technology and living in advanced cities is that people tend to lose some basic aspects of humanity i.e being one with nature, having meaningful conversations, and other forms of face to face social interaction. Hence the demand for providing for these needs is increasing in urban areas. On the exterior – building mini parks, green landscapes, playgrounds, interactive art pop ups, and the like are cited as among the keys to happiness.

Interior design and fit out companies are supporting these efforts more and more by practicing new ways of building spaces according to the needs of the end users. Some include investing in bigger communal areas for work places, building open office layout instead of traditional cubicles, use of ergonomic furniture made with low environmental impact materials, multi-functional FF&E’s for smart use of storage space, and use of alternative sources of energy such as solar, just to name a few. This goes for commercial buildings, restaurants, offices, hotels, entertainment centers, and retail stores.

A snap shot of the KOJI production team at our modern joinery facility in Ras Al Khaimah

Another crucial consideration is people’s accessibility to comfortable facilities. The United Arab Emirate’s harsh climate during the long summer season calls for installation of shaded areas, temperature regulated enclosed walkways to public transportation.

As humans become more discerning of their living, work, and leisure environment, the great task of providing for people’s holistic health is up to the engineers, designers, and builders who shape these incredible cities.


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