Sanjive Khosla, senior vice president at District 2020, shares the three principles underpinning Dubai’s emerging human-centric sustainable smart city
Since its inception, every aspect of Expo 2020 Dubai has been thoughtfully considered to ensure that its legacy is carried on for generations to come, and its infrastructure is able to evolve to meet the future needs of businesses and individuals.
District 2020 – the future vision of Expo 2020 Dubai – is a sustainable and human-centric future city, designed as a people-first, purpose-driven community that will transition and repurpose the World Expo’s physical and virtual infrastructure, according to Sanjive Khosla, senior vice president at District 2020.
The development will retain more than 260,000 sqft of floor area of LEED Gold and Platinum structures from Expo and will be transitioned in phases into residential, commercial, and cultural neighbourhoods in District 2020.
Designed to reimagine the future of smart and sustainable urban spaces, sustainability is at the core of District 2020’s design – a concept that Khosla believes encompasses “environmental, economic, and inclusive aspects”.
“Sustainability is of course environmental sustainability, but it’s also economic sustainability…you could also argue that it is about inclusivity and making sure that you’re open towards all,” he added.
District 2020 aims to create a blueprint for a human-centred smart city that is purposely designed to unlock potential, according to Khosla.
“We have to make sure that the sustainable future is present in our legacy, so our master plan was always based on the principle that at least 80 percent of what we build is going to remain,” he said.
“All the buildings that were built and we will retain in legacy are either LEED Gold or LEED Platinum certified,” he added.
A great majority of built assets in District 2020 are LEED certified, the most widely used green building rating system in the world.
Eight projects across the site have also received the CEEQUAL certification, with each one achieving the top ‘Excellent’ rating, highlighting the sustainable design elements incorporated across the site.
Highlighting the various sustainable elements incorporated into District 2020’s infrastructure, Khosla said: “22 percent of our site’s electricity consumption is generated through solar panels, which are on top of all buildings. Our buildings have also been designed in a very efficient way so they consume almost 50 percent less water than typical buildings do… even when it comes to vegetation, you’ll see there’s a lot of greenery around the development.
Khosla believes that three principles should form the basis of every city design, in which he said: “These elements all exist in District 2020 and they are: sustainability, wellness, and liveability.”
“We should be very much wellness focused…you’re trying to encourage people to live a healthy lifestyle and achieve a balance between physical and mental wellbeing,” he added.
With that, District 2020 is the first community in the region to be registered under the WELL community standard pilot, an initiative of the WELL Building Standard. As a WELL community, Khosla shared: “District 2020 will prioritise those who live and work there by preserving their health and wellbeing across all aspects of community life.”
“With liveability, it’s about providing opportunities for people to be entertained, such as having performance venues and cultural attractions for everyone… it’s what makes a city very human,” Khosla said.
“While cities of the past have placed immense value on the infrastructure itself, cities of the future are increasingly human centric….it’s really about people and how they can get the most out of it,” he added.
With that arises the ‘15-minute city’, a residential urban concept, where most basic social functions for living and working are located within a travel distance of 15 minutes.
“District 2020 has been modelled around the 15-minute city. It essentially has everything that you need as a person who lives or works here… you should be able to get anywhere within a 15-minute walk or bike ride,” said Khosla.
“You could be working in one building, living in the next, and then going down in the evening to your favourite restaurant, which is probably in the building after,” he explained.
District 2020’s master plan will play an integral role in supporting Dubai’s current and future growth ambitions and has been identified as the fifth urban centre in the Dubai 2040 Urban Masterplan.
Following a short re-purposing and transition period, District 2020 plans to begin its hand over to future occupants by Q4 2022.