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Dubai Carbon The Sustainabilist April Tourism Baharash Bagherian



July 5, 2018, 10:36 am

UAE-based architecture firm Baharash Architecture focuses only on sustainable architecture, designing eco resorts and developments for major clients in the region, including the under-construction world’s biggest eco-resort, Oasis Eco Resort. Founder and director Baharash Bagherian spoke to The Sustainabilist about his work, his passion for sustainability, the challenges he faces and his vision for the future

In my studio, we believe sustainability is the backbone to building a better world. We believe great architecture is more than buildings, it’s about creating sustainable destinations that make people feel healthy to live in, inspired to work in and want to visit. Thus, our choice to focus entirely on projects that are sustainable was driven by our sense of purpose. We are all committed to developing innovative, creative solutions that make a positive contribution to current and future generations.

The Oasis Eco Resort will be a significant step for eco-tourism in the UAE and the entire MENA region. It’s significant because uncontrolled conventional tourism causes harm to natural areas, by putting excess pressure on the area which can lead to impacts such as increased pollution, soil erosion, loss of natural habitats and endangered species. Uncontrolled conventional tourism also puts pressure on water resources, and it can force local populations to compete for the use of critical resources.

Sustainable architecture is about designing developments that provide the highest quality of life together with the lowest environmental footprint, whilst ensuring the needs of future generations are not compromised.
For developers working in a highly competitive market, sustainable architecture can provide an opportunity as a unique selling point. It can add a competitive advantage to a developer’s project, as buyers look towards properties with access to a range of desirable amenities, as well as providing minimum maintenance fees and reduced energy bills.
Sustainable architecture also has a great influence on the typology of a building. This creates an opportunity for designers to rethink the way people live and work. The typology of a building can improve the quality of life, whilst also helping to maximise the environmental gains through form, orientation and density. Sustainable architecture also provides opportunities to integrate nature into architecture, with the objective of making people feel healthier and happier. Nature has many benefits for our wellbeing; it makes us live in harmony, improves our memory, reduces depression, boosts workplace performance and bonds people together.

One of the key challenges when working on sustainable projects is at the early stages. Basic design decisions such as orientation, density and form provide the biggest environmental gains, yet these require the least financial investment. So, at the early stages we are able to reduce a large amount of energy demand with little cost. Another key challenge is working with the client and consultant team from the beginning of a project to develop a series of sustainable initiatives and targets. These targets help guide the design in the pursuit of its sustainability goals. We divide some of these targets into categories such as Water, Health and Wellbeing, Energy, Materials, Pollution, Ecology and Waste. Another challenge is providing a truly holistic approach to development. The basic idea of a holistic approach to sustainable development is to provide a whole solution which addresses all the three key pillars of sustainability, rather than just dealing with one part. Thus the three key pillars of sustainability – social, economic and environmental – need to be considered from the very beginning, without a special emphasis on one over the other. Another key challenge of sustainable projects is ensuring early commitment, coordination and partnerships between private and public entities from various sectors.

The purpose of sustainable architecture is rapidly evolving as urban challenges grow, lifestyle habits change, socio-economic challenges expand and new technologies emerge. The increase rate of climate change is also fuelling new thinking in sustainable architecture. The next generation of sustainable architecture will be driven by new typologies that promote inclusivity, resilience and greater protection of the environment. They will also be less about buildings and more about creating healthy places that promote sustainability as a lifestyle.

Over the next decade, there will be a significant increase in population and urbanisation, which will have severe impacts on our cities’ infrastructures and resources, as well as the health and wellbeing of its inhabitants. To mitigate these effects and provide a higher quality of life, we have no choice but to design with sustainability, which is still a fairly new concept in the MENA region.Sustainable design is also important for developers, because in a highly competitive market sustainable design can provide a unique selling point. It can add a competitive advantage to a developer’s project, as buyers look towards properties with access to a range of desirable amenities, as well as providing minimum maintenance fees and reduced energy bills. Contrary to common belief, sustainable design does not require an increase in client budget or construction cost. Sustainable design also minimises maintenance costs and increases the durability of buildings. This means more cost savings over a project’s lifetime as well as an increase in longevity. Whilst active strategies such as incorporating renewable energy or recycling systems into projects do require an additional investment, the paybacks on these systems are recovered over the years from significantly reduced energy and water bills. Ultimately, sustainable buildings are important because they promote a higher quality of life whilst reducing our impact on the environment.

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