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Challenges and opportunities for city planners, developers and architects in 2021

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Cityscape Intelligence looks at how the past 12 months could impact our built environments in the MENA region in 2021 and beyond

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused the unprecedented change, resulting in the sudden recalibration of our urban spaces. Here we look at some of the key lessons from the pandemic in 2020, and how they could impact how architects, developers and city planners are looking at building cities in 2021 and beyond.

THE CHALLENGES OF 2020 AND COVID-19

Many of the planned developments across the region from new skyscrapers to Dubai’s Expo 2020 were delayed or put on hold due to the crisis. Moreover, many of the countries in the region faced an exodus of foreign workers due to the impact of the COVID-19. Dubai suffered the steepest decline, with a drop of 8.4 percent in expat workers, while the GCC region on a whole faced an average of a 4 percent decline during 2020.

There have, however, been many positive outcomes from the challenges posed by the pandemic. Indeed, many cities have used the pandemic to experiment with change in terms of urban planning.

THE CLIMATE CRISIS AND THE PANDEMIC

As a result of the past 12 months, there has been a renewed appetite for greener cities. The “15-minute city” was a green-living concept widely discussed prior to COVID-19, however, the trend has seen a significant uptake of interest in the past 12 months. With travel discouraged, public transport less available, and people working remotely from home, there has been a greater focus on the immediate amenities of a particular area. This is a trend likely to continue beyond the pandemic, with the greater expectations from citizens for locally and civic minded urban hubs.

 

GREATER TECHNOLOGY OPPORTUNITIES FOR ARCHITECTS IN 2021

Big data is set to transform urban planning and architectural design. Buoyed on by challenges faced by the COVID-19 crisis and the rise of digital cities - where a significant amount of the workforce works remotely - big data will support economical resource use and the creation of smart cities, like The Line and the New Administrative Capital developments, currently being planned respectively in Saudi Arabia and Egypt in 2021 and beyond.

 


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