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Access to clean air, hybrid workspaces are key criteria for livable cities of the future, experts agreed at a Theme Week panel

Access to clean air, hybrid workspaces and efficient commuting are among the key criteria defining sustainable, livable cities of the future, experts agreed at a panel discussion focused on livable communities during the final day of Expo 2020 Dubai's Health and Wellness Week.

"Being able to get to the city comfortably and conveniently is an important criterion for me when choosing the city or neighborhood I want to live in," said James Thoem, director of Copenhagenize, at the discussion on health and wellness in livable communities, one of several panels and expert presentations that make up "Nature's Healing Hands | Creating Healthy Environments for Living" at the Expo's Nexus for People and Planet on Wednesday, February 2.

"I want to live in a place where I don't have to spend all that time in a car," he added, when asked what "a better quality of life" means to him. "[Another] really important part of living in a city is living [somewhere] that's engaging - a city where you want to spend time outside, in different public spaces."

Incorporating a mix of short presentations, the session - exploring District 2020's plans as a model for the human-centered communities of the future - was moderated by David Gourlay, director - Site Delivery Office, District 2020, with Tekha Selim, vice president of global market development, Delos, also attending.

Sanjive Khosla, senior vice president of District 2020's transition unit, said, "Designing a city and neighborhood that considers sustainability, minimizes environmental impact and enables sustainable living is the second most important part of livability.

"Cities are also about inspiration, connection, creation and innovation, so how do we use the built environment, the public realm, the public spaces, to connect people - to inspire them, to connect them with each other, to exchange ideas, to socialize? That's the third element."

Citing conversations between District 2020 and its future tenants, Khosla added, "Hybrid work is here to stay, that's the consensus, which is there in the first place. At the end of the day, human beings are pretty social, so they need that social interaction.

"What's happening today is that companies are redesigning their offices to have more and more social spaces, where employees can go, sit, connect and interact. They also prefer environments where it's very easy to access clean, open air, so you're not sitting in a 50- or 100-story building where it takes you 15 minutes just to get downstairs and get some air.

"People now value their time and their health more. So designing a city that has all of those elements, where you don't have to spend a lot of time moving from place to place and everything is available to you, allows you to spend a lot more time on the things that matter to you personally."

District 2020 - the future of Expo 2020 Dubai - is the first community in the region to be registered under the WELL Community Standard Pilot - an initiative of the WELL Building Standard™. Guided by WELL's initiative, District 2020 aims to create a movement around a people-centered community that fosters high levels of social interaction and engagement.

District 2020 seeks to prioritize the future needs of workers and residents in a rapidly changing global landscape by putting people at its core. Through a purpose-built smart infrastructure that combines contemporary office and residential spaces, educational and cultural facilities, entertainment venues and a series of iconic attractions retained from Dubai Expo 2020, it will provide a sense of community, connection and convenience.