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Open spaces are an asset to the social, aesthetic, and economic aspects of any city. The presence of greenbelts and parks act as a stress-reliever for the city dwellers. Among one of the oldest urban open space examples, the Central Park in New York City, was established to address the unhealthy urban conditions owing to rapid urbanisation. It was designed to provide people access to open green spaces where they could rejuvenate from hustle of their surroundings.
A study in Belgium associated access to greener spaces with our cognitive skills, including our memory and attention capability. It suggested children who grew among green areas displayed higher IQ levels. While there is no denying the benefits of open green spaces, throughout the years, open spaces have become residual', or whatever spaces are left after the development of a particular region. Today, designs that reclassify the 'idea' of open spaces need to be incorporated. This feeling has only heightened during current times. The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has made nations across the world execute lockdowns and social distancing norms to control the virus spread. Being cooped-up in their houses have made people yearn for and realise the importance of having spaces that allow one to connect with nature.
A recent report by FICCI-ANAROCK, highlighted the increased in demand for larger houses with layouts that accommodate work-from-home as well as a marked preference for integrated townships that allowed live-work-play in controlled environment and a rising preference for self-owned homes (villas or row houses) provide better social distancing and even weekend homes and farmhouses. Similar findings are reflected in online survey conducted by Lodha Developers. Here the participants expressed strong need to have their own garden or backyard lawn among other things.
Integrating open spaces in real estate developments
Increasingly we will witness greater emphasis of integration of green and blue architecture as well as demarcation of open spaces when developing residential and commercial real estate projects. In a way, it’s going back in time when house were spacious and had ample open spaces around. These houses were built in harmony with nature and ensured they supported the emotional as well as physical well-being of its occupants.
Over the past few years, reputed developers have found ways to integrate open spaces into their projects. Many of these are right in the heart of the city, while others based that are based on the principal of integrated townships are located in the peripheries. Smart planning has led to all-encompassing spaces that combine grey, green, and blue infrastructure. These not only support well-being of the residents but are also crucial steps towards sustainability that look to mitigate adverse impact on environment. Let’s look at few apparent benefits of open spaces –
Health benefits - living among green open spaces has direct health benefit as well as it enhances emotional well-being. Having access to open spaces, is great motivation to indulge in physical activities - a leisurely walk in the park can help you de-stress, while a jog or any form of sports can boost your fitness.
Community living – Open spaces also play a crucial role in community bonding as it allows avenues to meet and interact with other people. To feel part of a closely-knit social fabric is a source of comfort in times like these.
Sustainable living – Creating of open, green spaces will also act to counter the adverse effects of urbanisation. They also support the goals of conservation by smart management of water and energy resources.
Economic benefits – A house in an area that’s surrounded by greenery and ample open spaces, will always be attractive and command higher price.
How to evaluate projects with open spaces
The pandemic has given rise to demand for housing projects offering ample open spaces, houses with decks, proper ventilation for air and light, among other things. Here are few things to consider when evaluating a project:
Ratio of open spaces - Evaluate the development plan to understand the ratio of open spaces to the number of inhabitants. Higher this number, the better it is. For instance, Lodha Belmondo, is a 100-acre riverside resort with an impressive 90 acres of open greens.
Planning - Integration of blue, green infrastructure in projects based in heart of the city could be challenging and will require smart planning. For instance, Lodha Park, in Worli, features a 7-acre park within a 17-acre development. It is 70 ft. above the ground and is built with 14 kilometers of concrete wall to retain soil, plants and a covered drainage system. Over 700 tall trees and 115,000 shrubs bring Lodha Park to life.
Long term vision - Ensure that the open spaces in a development are not marked for future development and are rather dedicated open spaces. At Lodha Amara, of the 30 acres dedicated to open spaces, 2 acres features a one-of-its-kind private forest that’s filled with over thousand trees, walking trails, machan and more. It’s an everlasting gift for generations to enjoy.
Sustainability – Apart from the aesthetic value, open spaces need to contribute towards sustainability. With over 60% of open space, Palava an integrated Live-Learn-Work-Play city employs number of sustainability measures that have ensured efficient allocation of resources in the city and led to water, waste, energy conservation.
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