Doha, 31 October 2014 – QPM, the leading Qatari project management company, participated in the Future Landscape & Public Realm Qatar conference held on 27 and 28 October 2014 at the Intercontinental Hotel – The City in Doha.
The summit, part of the Project Qatar conference series, organized by Advanced Conferences & Meetings (ACM), provided an opportunity for landscaping and exterior design professionals, urban planners and high-level decision makers to discuss the latest trends, key challenges, ongoing projects and upcoming opportunities in Qatar’s landscaping and outdoor design industry.
QPM supported the event as a partner, with Landscape Architect Hala Shiblaq addressing the challenges between artificial and natural grass in a presentation titled “Plastic vs Green”.
Ms. Shiblaq has during her overall career contributed to the design of the Sheraton Park in West Bay, Sky Gardens of Shams Abu Dhabi, Dubai Festival City-Al Badiya, and the Dubai Waterfront Project.
During the presentation, she highlighted the basic challenges landscape architects face when designing projects. “The homogenization of landscapes has become so popular that modern cities are losing their local identity. The approach of transforming desert into a lush paradise is not a sustainable solution either.
She spoke about the advantages and disadvantages of artificial grass including health, environmental and performance concerns. “Due to the intense transformations these cities undergo, developers are using artificial treatments such as artificial grass. However we must be wary of the rubber infill used in some low-grade artificial grass fields are often made out of pulverized tires with traces of heavy metals such as lead and could also contain traces of carcinogens.”
She said the dust produced by constant contact with rubber infill could be inhaled or ingested by those who play on it. Using sand infill is a better option. Sand doesn’t absorb as much heat as rubber. It is also preferable to use an underlay which acts as a shock pad and reduces possible skin abrasion during play due to athletes sliding on the turf.
There many such higher quality turf variations. So when choosing artificial turf, planners should ensure they are using environmentally regulated artificial grass. Qatar uses environmentally regulated artificial grass, and the option of using toxin-free infill is available in the country. There are lots of organic alternatives to rubber infill such as dune sand, walnut shells, coconut shells, or even cork.
Other disadvantages when selecting the artificial route include the heat factor. The surface temperature of natural grass is similar to atmospheric temperature, while the surface temperature of artificial grass can be 20 degrees higher. This makes cooling a necessity with artificial grass.
Ms. Shiblaq said developers and designers should refrain from using artificial grass in residential and educational facilities, sports fields or playgrounds until the health and environmental impacts are resolved.
Artificial grass does have its merits when used wisely. They are great for highways and medians, roundabouts, or airport grounds where they remain verdant and use zero water. “We also tend to change our behavioral habits when driving to next to a green space,” said Ms. Shiblaq. “People slow down or remain cautious when they drive in green areas. So this is one of the things we need to think about when creating future master plans.”
Airport grounds are another opportunity for the use of artificial turf in massive spaces. The sense of arrival or departure from a city can leave a positive impression on the passenger while looking through the airplane window.
She concluded that from a landscape architect’s perspective, local identity must be protected, ecological diversity embraced, and artificial treatments chosen wisely.
The Future Landscape & Public Realm conference addressed:
- Latest trends in landscaping and outdoor design that are applicable to Qatar and the GCC
- Efficient use of water resources and irrigation technologies to minimize water usage and comply with sustainability goals
- Utilising local and regional plants to create long-lasting, attractive outdoor spaces, whilst minimizing environmental impact
- Energy efficient outdoor lighting solutions and strategies
- Sustainable materials selection and procurement
- Showcasing current and upcoming projects from across a variety of sectors including residential, commercial, public spaces, sporting facilities, healthcare facilities and other cultural and leisure destinations
- Lessons learned and best practice from leading landscape and exterior space designers