I was mighty glad Yesterday's morning when my colleague told me of the live talk show on one of the Emarati Arabic radio stations (I don't listen to Radio often). He said most of the phone calls were bitterly critical of the new obligatory "green roofs" regulation.
Most of the questions asked were spot on, and were more or less the same ones that had occurred to us (sane architects) after we've studied the circular. And we've even voiced our concerns, on behalf of owners, to the DM hot-shot who'd met with us to explain and to elaborate on the circular. His answers were so frivolous he almost sounded like he was mocking us, and absent from the whole discussion was the owner's side. I was certain that this thing will not go un-noticed or un-protested by the owners. At times like these, when you need to find the best investment value for every single Fils you're spending, either privately or commercially, it's imperative that new laws are feasible and sustainable.
1 First caller's question was this: How come we, as villa owners, are not obligated to have any gardens on the un-built grounds of the plot, yet now it's obligatory to have it on THE ROOF? does it not make more sense to have green landscape on the ground level, where everyone could enjoy it, than to have it on the roof, where the access is almost always restricted? oh yeah, that takes us to question no2.
2 Municipality regulations does not allow having an external staircase to the villa, (i.e. one where you could access the roof from outside without being intrusive on the residents. i.e. the main staircase must always open up to living halls, dinning rooms, night lounge...etc...) therefore, whenever the gardeners need to access the roof and work on maintaining the expensive green areas, the owner of the villa will have to clear a path for them. All women, as is traditionally and culturally known, will have to retreat to the bedrooms or the kitchen. That is leaving aside the dirt, grime, dust and oil stains that maintenance workers leave in their wake. Of course, there are AC units and water tanks on the roof as well, but those are only approached once in a blue moon. While gardens require daily care.
3 Imagine the frustration of a young Emarati, who is financing the construction of his/her villa (through Amlak for instance) to the very last Dirham, imagine when this new rule pops out and include villas that are under construction as well. First, the consultant will have to whip up proposals for the green roofs and get them approved from DM. But the contractor won't move jack shit in a construction site (beyond what is in a contract) unless his additional claims for them are agreed upon by all parties. So there will be hellish back and forth correspondences between the contractor and the consultant until the messenger drops dead. The owner will be watching in despair, while being constantly assured by DM that this is all for his own good. When a number for the additional claims is agreed upon, the owner will have to get further finance for it. This will always take time, even if the process was smooth and approval guaranteed.
Now, if you mention the above scenario to the DM hotshot as a criticism of the new regulation, he'd blame it on the collective incompetence of contractors and consultants in Dubai. He? He always proposes regulations that could only be dealt with and understood by perfect, and highly qualified, professionals, big question marks about his own professional career notwithstanding. He’d expect the green roof areas to be accommodated with 6 hours.
That, of course, is leaving aside the fact that some, if not most of, villa owners won't be able to make use of the incentives that came along with the circular. (for the same financial reasons)
4 A caller, with almost a pleading voice, had said that her daughter is asthmatic. And that she (the mother) takes utmost care to keep her away from dust, soil, insects ..etc.. She said she's really considering bartering her villa, which is under construction, with some existing old villa where roof gardens aren't obligatory. Imagine the disappointment when you've spent a year sitting across the table from a creepy architect, going through details, features and nuances of the design, and then you end up having to drop all that and move into a villa that was the brainchild of someone else?
My colleague's commute is only 10 minutes; so this is only a small sample of the total complaints during the two hours live broadcast. Did I tell you I have my own crystal ball? It foretold me of the problems that will emerge with the implementation of this law. Now my crystal ball is telling me the law will get abolished soon, or at least substantially revised.