Young engineers address affordable housing issues in Saudi Arabia

A group of young engineers has met in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to discuss the future of affordable housing in the city.

With the theme of ‘Housing and Integrated Neighbourhoods’, the event required students to design a future neighbourhood for Riyadh. Particular emphasis was placed on designs that promoted low consumption of energy and water, sustainable materials, and reduced reliance on cars.

The meeting was the first of seven discussions that will take place as part of the ‘Urban Design Challenge’. It was held under the patronage of The Happold Foundation in partnership with Alfaisal University, BuroHappold Engineering, Henning Larsen Architects, and Knight Frank Real Estate Consultants.

Commenting on the scheme, Stefan Burch, head of Knight Frank Saudi Arabia, said: “Providing suitable and sustainable housing for the young of Saudi Arabia is an ongoing challenge that is dominating the residential market.

“We believe that through engaging with the youth of Saudi Arabia, the industry can develop ideas and potential solutions to the current issues faced by those looking to purchase a home. As land cost and availability continues to be a concern, developing innovative and sustainable housing solutions for the growing population will be a key challenge in the short to medium term,” he noted.

The Happold Foundation’s ‘Urban Design Challenge’ aims to foster young talent by introducing students to problem solving and critical thinking. The scheme is designed to combine engineering, creativity, and talent promotion, according to its backers.

Robert Okpala, trustee at The Happold Foundation and group director at BuroHappold Engineering, Riyadh, commented: “The continual fall in oil prices over the last year, and the impact this has had on government spending in the region, has reminded us of the need for good sustainable and integrated design solutions and practices. I have been impressed more recently by the young talent of Saudi and their keenness to be involved in contributing to some of the challenges and opportunities that this presents us within the built environment in Riyadh.

“The young talent of Riyadh has a lot to offer in terms of ideas and creativity, and we are proud to be supporting such a worthwhile initiative that engages the young talent of Riyadh in such a positive way,” Okpala concluded.