Walid El Hindi, chief executive officer of Imkan, says the future of architecture and property development “relies heavily” on research.
Our contemporary world is connected and in a constant state of communication. Search, social media and smartphones, complete with video, have transformed the world around us. Today, we live in an era of speed and connectivity that impacts every sector, including our built environment.
Modern cities, we know, are becoming greener and more efficient, as we digest the scientific evidence of years gone by and look to live more sustainable lives. They are starting to cater to a younger generation that seeks to invest with property developers whose values resonate with their own. This is important to understand from the point of view of the real estate developer for there is now much to consider in our modern era. Research is especially crucial for the professional involved in place-making.
Why is this so? Because it’s important to correctly identify what makes a young generation of buyers tick. And this may differ across the world. In the UAE, for example, we have seen a massive influx of young, creative entrepreneurs who aspire to infuse a more artistic aesthetic into the country’s fabric. This cohort of worldly decision-makers is keen to live in environments that reflect their aspirations.
Imkan developments at Makers District, whether The Artery, a flexible hybrid garage car park and maker space, or Pixel, the mixed-use community which makes use of green space and has been designed with 12,000m² of public realm, are both prime examples of Imkan projects in Abu Dhabi which showcase a detailed understanding of this generation and the issues driving modern-day placemaking.
The scenic waterfront development offers contemporary living, coupled with a dynamic and multi-layered experience, through residential, hospitality, commercial and retail. But more than that, it promotes culture and tradition, a place where education and inspiration are cultivated and creativity thrives. With makers in mind, the project promotes an honest and expressive palette of materials, textures and colours, a vibrant “industrial chic”.
The retail, F&B, office space and residential areas are pixelated and the architectural section of the development offers a completely pedestrianized, active, ground-level experience. There is a dynamic mix of spaces providing opportunities for incidental interaction in the public realm and in the buildings. From an architecture and design point of view, there are seven very slender, mid-rise buildings with a very lively public space to encourage creativity, collaboration and dynamism. At the ground level area between the towers are lanes that provide a more intimate F&B experience directly off the vibrant plaza.
All this detail has taken time and effort. We are the region’s first developer to invest in an in-house research division with multi-disciplinary experts from every background (ranging from architecture to fashion and sociology). We believe that the future of architecture and property development relies on a massive dose of personality combined with examination and study. For developers to be successful in the future, they will need data and insight to help inform their decisions. It will be important for them to consider holistic considerations such as activation, community engagement, individual health and wellbeing and additional aspects that influence the happiness of both residents and visitors.
By conducting research and having it as a vital step ahead of any pre-concept project phase, we believe that we can bring great insight to what is required in the 21st century UAE and beyond.