Architecture, Atkins, GCC Architects, Mixed-use developments

GCC architects are seeing demand increase for better integrated developments

According to a handful of architects working across the GCC, developers are currently looking to increase the production of mixed-use projects in the coming years – and they are particularly focused on better integrating the ‘live-work-play’ ethos.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in the market appetite for mixed-use developments over the last few years across the GCC, but particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” said Jonathan Lane of Atkins Dubai. “Clients tend to be looking for high-quality products that will be attractive to end-users with less of a focus on the investor market than perhaps there has been in the past.”

Lane added that regional mixed-use developments are becoming more genuine with their offerings, with upcoming projects ensuring a balance of uses – a challenge architects must face over the coming 12 months.

“Retail, parks, schools, clinics and so on are all important to the success of these developments,” he said, “but over-provision can cause challenges in terms of traffic, access and parking once the site is developed. Over-provision can also drive down rents or lead to vacancy, both of which can damage the image of an otherwise successful development.”

Similarly, Lane said, not providing the optimal quantum and range of uses can reduce the appeal of a development to potential investors. In terms of non-residential developments, inadequate balance of uses can further limit the ‘out of hours’ activity and vibrancy of a project, he added.

“The impact of including a broad mix of uses within an otherwise commercial office setting is clearly apparent in DIFC, where the mix of food outlets, retail and residential uses within a commercial office setting has had a dramatic impact on the vitality of the area after traditional office hours and even during the weekends,” Lane said.

The market in the region is maturing, he assured. Residents and investors are picking and choosing their preferred development based on both the location as well as the lifestyle offerings. While access and parking are essential conditions for end-use satisfaction, the provision of parks, sports facilities, community retail, clinics, schools and other similar facilities within the development have major influences on the success of a project in the long run.