This was the title of a workshop that took place 5-6th of September in Kuwait. Organized by UN-HABITAT to celebrate the World Habitat Day, the workshop focused on urban planning issues that are currently present in Arab countries. I found the workshop both insightful and encouraging for reminding Kuwait for its collective responsibility towards urban planning.
The Keynote speakers were specialists and researchers from Kuwait and abroad. They discussed how we (as urban designers and architects) should react to the fast change in environmental conditions and urban developments. Green buildings, where there is enough attention given to the use of water, wind and sunlight, are good solutions. However, buildings alone cannot create a sustainable, environmentally friendly city. A building plays an important role in a city, but it’s not the only element there. For the city to become sustainable, streets, highways and cars also need to be designed in a way that considers the environmental conditions.
Dr. Serageldin mentioned a proposal called Eco-city. Which is defined as “a human settlement that enables its residents to live a good quality of life while using minimal natural resources”. In this proposal, green buildings will be of great use since their surroundings are well designed. The city has a few other characteristics including its walkability, vegetation, self-reliance and public transport.
I think this is a great proposal but I doubt it can be fully implemented in Kuwait, mostly due to our lifestyle in conjunction with our intense heat. This does not mean we should quit trying to make Kuwait more sustainable. Surely, we can learn a few things from Eco-city and apply them in Kuwait. For example, better public transport would lessen the traffic and pollution. More trees and vegetation can act as a wind and dust barrier and assist in cleansing the air.
This workshop was under the patronage of Dr. Safar, Minister of Public Works in Kuwait. There were also officials from Traffic Ministry of Interior and Higher Planning and Development Council. What I appreciated the most about this workshop was the encouragement that I felt from the officials. They all recognized their roles in planning a better urban future for Kuwait.