Championing Best Urban Design Practice: One of ‘Recipes’ To Cope With Pandemic? A Case Study in Qatar

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Submission Summary
Almost none of the countries in the world are not impacted by the current ongoing world pandemic. This is an exceptional circumstance in a century that intrigues all the world-professions and entities to oversee pandemic mitigations through their expertise’ lenses. For urban planners, urban designers, and architects who influence the shape of the structure of places, cities, and towns, this pandemic certainly brings humongous homework. The shape and structure of cities become evidently influencing the transmission of diseases, and the Covid 19 infection is no exception. Prior to ‘Covid 19’, the Planning Authority in Qatar, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME), has had established a comprehensive set of planning frameworks to assist developments on the ground. It ranges from legally-bind planning tools, such as national policies, national development frameworks, regional spatial development plans, and development regulations, to the advisory tools on designing any developments such as guidance and guidelines. For the latter, one of the instances is the Qatar Urban Design Compendium (QUDC) which was completed at the beginning of 2020. The QUDC was prepared to answer urban design and development challenges experiencing by Qatar. It was developed based upon a sound and comprehensive methodology for identifying most development challenges. The Compendium is a national consensus of general social, cultural, and economic pertinent values and ‘the urban design strategies on how the country will handle those issues, that are categorized into key facets or key principle areas of urban design: namely the fundamentals, sustainable urbanism, movement & transport, spatial structure and urban form, built form & architecture, landscape urbanism, and the delivery. With the world pandemic hit in the same year of the QUDC’s completion, it raises all sorts of questions regarding their relevance in preparing cities in Qatar to cope with the pandemic’s impacts. Now is a ground-truthing moment whether the consensus on urban design best practice for the country that covers guidance on social-cultural-economic aspects as the fundamentals and the key principles on spatial and physical design are still workable or still relevant to cope with the pandemic- impacts. The proposal will be organized into three (3) sections: • The first section will discuss the rationales and parameters that are influencing the development of each key principle area, by which they were developed prior to pandemic time. • The second section will analyze whether the way we shape the cities in general terms and the factors in the key principle areas in a specific term, as set in the QUDC, is still workable and relevant to mitigate and cope with the pandemic impacts. • The third section will be the conclusion part for both Qatar and the general context. It will elicit whether pandemic considerations will be the primary key driver to shape future cities in, or becomes a lens on how we foresee and oversee urban design best practice; will identify what factors need to be reconsidered and redefined; and will define the ways forward. As the pandemic is acute and still ongoing, will champion the best practice in urban design help cities to cope with similar crises in the future?
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2: Well-being and health. Al-Fereej: caring for living conditions
Senior Urban Designer Specialist
Ministry of Municipality and Environment
Expert_Architect Engineering

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