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Birjees S Hussain: Here’s how to save your parks
February 17, 2017
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Exclusive to The Gulf Today

Development is an inevitable part of life. It really began when man invented something for the first time. But whereas the first invention added something to our lives without taking anything away, nowadays this really isn’t the case.

With the never-ending race for the tallest building or the need to provide homes for an increasing population, many aspects of our environment are being affected. Over the years pollution has increased and our natural resources have begun to disappear. The fact is that excessive developments do put stresses on our resources and the environment in general. But I’ll wager that you would never guess what is also at risk. Something none of us ever thought about even though we might be seeing it everyday of our lives. If you live in places like the UK, Europe or North America you already know how crowded their cities can be. These countries are already so built up that they really only have two options. They either build upwards, meaning taller buildings, or they expand and that means at the expense of open spaces that are green in the shape of fields and parks.

Okay, in all fairness, the UAE has a completely different experience when it comes to developments. The country is relatively new so any new projects do not affect greenery. In fact, here it’s the exact opposite. When projects are developed, so is nature. Birds appear, parks flourish and kids always have somewhere to play when the weather is right.

Not so in the West however. Whereas urbanisation is a real need, it is also a real concern for environmentalists and childcare providers alike. Over the years, more and more parks have succumbed to bulldozers thus making way for residential buildings or for companies to start their production plants. There are two outcomes from this. Green areas are either no longer there because they have become concrete or they have become smaller and smaller and fewer and fewer. But even that smaller and smaller green plot is also at risk. With everyone’s attention on developments, less and less mind is paid towards parks. There is little or no upkeep taking place as the priority is to house people and provide jobs.

But what can already highly developed countries do? Let’s suppose that local and national regulations get put in place, or if they are already in place, they are more stringently enforced. What is the next option? Well, work upwards and try to include decks as green areas? Perhaps.

Well for years I have had this wild imagination of what a futuristic city could look like. It comprises a gigantic building. This building is so big that it contains trams, rails and interconnecting lifts and escalators that connect people to multiple shopping malls, restaurants, offices, resorts and of course residential areas. It would be designed in such a way that residents would never really need to leave this building. They would work, live, shop and play inside this building. Now I would imagine that the building would be climate controlled so that lush greenery would also be created. These would include parks, trees, waterfalls and not forgetting introducing wildlife.

I know this sounds like a mammoth project. But just think of it this way. It would provide ample work for people at the project development stage and once complete, ample housing, and even more employment. We could still enjoy the future whilst at the same time continuing to preserve our present and our future.

I know this all sounds rather far-fetched and most probably never likely to come to fruition. But I really wanted to relate this thought I’ve had for years.

In all seriousness, let’s just focus on all future building projects. We’ve heard of hanging gardens and the walls of some buildings being covered in greenery but since the subject of this column is to preserve or try to provide playing greens for all of us, it’s very important for future architects to include at least one level in every building that is dedicated to greenery and even a mini park.

I do hope architects are reading this and taking notes, in my humble opinion.

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