Trend hunter: City Love

BY Rue Kothari / Feb 16 2017 / 15:04 PM

Love your city? Downtown Design Director Rue Kothari asks why

Trend hunter: City Love
Rue Kothari

Gone are the days when the UAE was considered a hardship posting, where employers would pack a sweetener into an employee’s salary package to ease the transition to a less ‘liveable’ city. Now we are welcoming 10,000 new expats into the city every month, people who want to eat, travel, work and play with a sense of belonging to their new home.

As the balance of global power and stability shifts from West to East, cities like Zurich, Brussels and Paris have declined in desirability, while Dubai, alongside Tehran and even Harare in Zimbabwe are growing fastest in terms of how much more ‘liveable’ they are becoming. Fashion capitals like London, Paris or New York might boast prestige, but what’s the opportunity cost of the glamour life? Overcrowded transport? Expensive accommodation? Long commutes to work? Pollution? 
For the sixth year in a row, Australia’s hipster capital Melbourne is ranked as the world’s most liveable, based on five categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure, affording their residents a standard of living we all aspire to.
As our collective values evolve away from mass consumerism, it’s the attainment of that elusive thing, the live-work balance that becomes the ideal we’re all seeking. This is something made more possible in smaller cities where population is low, where you have a real choice of where and how you live, and easy access to green spaces.
Which brings up the question: How connected do you feel to your host city? This is where design comes in. It’s the mechanism that can help residents have a more positive connection to a city; one that eases their morning drive to work, that gives them WIFI on the go, provides public spaces for them to meet and play and gives them sense of community. Architects and urban planners exist to consider the wider perspective of what they build, beyond purpose, to anticipate how a space will benefit us, not just now, but long into the future.
As a safe haven for businesses and expats, with growing investment in infrastructure and a greater emphasis on a ‘designed’ city, Dubai is gaining ground as a place where its residents can experience the best of modern life. But it’s about more than connecting to the earth you inhabit. It’s about how well you live alongside your fellow citizens.
By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to live in a city. And this trend is spawning a whole new generation of solutions inspired by the idea of sharing and collaborating away from old notions of individualism. 
Advanced urbanism, how we merge technology and culture, is a new way to design a city to make it more open and collaborative. Take the current obsession with Fab Labs for example, workshops with computer equipment and the latest 3D tech have proliferated across the globe, including our own here at Tashkeel, that promote new ideals of DIYism – empowering designers to manufacture their own solutions to city life.
Energy-efficient transport systems, like our upcoming Hyperloop that promises to safely deliver you from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes for the price of a bus ticket is part of the promise for a cleaner, more liveable future. It’s one thing we all have in scarce supply – time. Time to spend with your friends and family, free time to perhaps do that very exotic of Dubai things, take a walk, preferably in one of the newer, more pedestrian communities, to people-watch, to notice the architecture around you – the spaces that someone has spent time designing for you to enjoy - and to spend a brief moment doing nothing but being aware of where you are.