Revitalizing Social Life in High-Rise Development

Issam Ezzeddine
Architecture Design Director
National Engineering Bureau, Dubai

The vertical residential urbanization growth of many high-density cities in the world has significantly increased concerns about the livability of developments in the urban planning sector. Extensive high-rise urban development and the unprecedented competition between property developers to build smart towers has led to a marked reduction in public open spaces for residents’ interaction and social gathering in newly developed communities.

Moreover, competition among architects and urbanists has reached fever pitch in their efforts to design the best landmark tall buildings. This presentation establishes that high-rise buildings need to accommodate open public spaces between the dwelling levels in order to enhance the quality of social interaction for occupants. Furthermore, a change in design and planning regulations, in which design and erection of high rise buildings cannot be permitted without including public spaces, is encouraged.

During the last 15 years, Dubai has witnessed an increase in the sprawl of vertical residential development, such as Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lake Towers and Business Bay Districts, leaving the ground bare of public open spaces and creating a hiatus between people and the natural outdoor environment. This presentation raises the key question of how public spaces within high-rise developments can contribute to the wellbeing of communities and encourage residents to enhance their social interaction. The proposed suggestion is based on empirical research, semi-structured interviews, and analyses that were conducted during a PhD study between 2013 to 2017, which showed high levels of psychosocial distress faced by residents of high-rise buildings due to lack of interaction and absence of social activities.