Thursday 22, November 2018
Space or place? Short-term property gains or human experience? Which would you prefer?
In today’s day and age, it is entirely possible to have both. IMKAN’s development strategy is driven by creating places from spaces which will yield long term value propositions. We also believe value can no longer be bought, it must be created. Thus, the relationship between the design of public space and the creation of value is place-making at its best.
In the Middle East, there have been a handful of projects over the last two decades that have combined elements such as a strong program mix, pedestrianization, connectivity, community, human scale, and high-quality soft and hard landscaping within the public realm to create a timeless investment. Whilst factors like oil prices clearly have an impact on capital appreciation in many parts of the region, place-making developments like ours remain attractive in the best and worst of times.
This is because our projects go beyond the brick-and-mortar aspect of buildings, while staying sensitive to in-between spaces that are appropriated to people’s needs and social habits. All these factors combined make it safe to assume that buyers and lessees, alike, will continue to inhabit holistic developments, for years to come.
Our company has strategically driven our project designs with a robust internal research and development team unlike any other in the region for precisely this reason. Our R&D arm has collaborated with some of the leading consultants in the world to ensure that the design of our projects, including the services and utilities provided, respond to the wellness of people, whether in terms of the quality of air inside and outside the buildings, access to natural light (and shade), nutrition and fitness, and multiple other factors.
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 technology and sociology). We consider activation, community engagement and individual well-being, in addition to various other aspects that influence the health and happiness of both residents and visitors.
We believe that place-making has the power to change the real estate market entirely. And it is because of our research that we stand by this belief.
The concept of ‘placemaking’ originated in the 1960s, when urban thinkers such as Jane Jacobs, Kevin Lynch and William Whyte offered pioneering ideas about designing cities that catered to people in holistic and sensitive ways. The term was soon adopted by architects, planners and landscape architects in the ‘70s to define their focus on building vibrant neighborhoods and interactive public spaces that brought in value over time. However, many major western cities in decline sought to facilitate development projects with the primary focus to generate economic gains and thus alleviate poverty rates or blighted environments. By the mid-90s, momentum around this concept gained noticeable traction as urbanization and repopulation of neighborhoods became a phenomenon. Further buttressed by the revolution in technological innovation at the turn of the century, the increased fluidity in people’s home and workplace choices have placed a greater premium on the quality of places they choose.
At IMKAN, aesthetic and functional appeal with strong proclivity towards capital appreciation is precisely the hallmark of our developments. Our marquise development at Makers District on Reem Island in Abu Dhabi will cement Abu Dhabi’s footing as the cultural capital of the UAE. The-Artery and Pixel, both anchor concepts within Makers District, embody the perfect environment for “Makers” - artists, curators, artisans, fashion designers who make and create the end products one might ultimately view in the Louvre just across the sea in Saadiyat. This ecosystem is supported by a six hectare public realm of landscaping, urban wadis, ocean front promenades and the only public beach on REEM Island to open in late 2018.
Other developments such as Nudra, a luxury lifestyle oasis offering high-end beach side residential villas for end users, offer customizable interior fit-out control. Sheikha Fatima Park, Abu Dhabi’s first open-air leisure and entertainment urban park, on the other hand, offers human-friendly, walkable environments that encourage both an active wellness lifestyle and increased neighborhood property values.
These elements constitute key components of a healthy and satisfying life as identified through our research. As importantly, they are also the very things that the next generation of cosmopolitan and educated investors are increasingly turning their attention to in the hope of augmenting both their lifestyle and capital.