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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 17/12/2013
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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Research suggests that environment-friendly housing projects can help save up to 50 per cent in utility bills. With this in mind, the Muttrah Group at the Muscat Youth Summit (MYS) got cracking at investigating Duqm's future housing needs and how eco-friendly materials and techniques can be combined into city planning to create a green community.

The 12-member team is being led by Mike Oades, a London-based architect who has over two decades of international experience in regeneration of port towns, and Dareen Mehdi, environmental education specialist at Oman Botanical Garden. The team will look into economic, environmental and cultural aspects that can be incorporated into their plan for an eco-friendly and low-cost family housing project. The challenge states that the houses have to be compact, easy to build and conform to cultural norms of the area.

Mehdi said, ''There are some excellent examples of countries around the world building eco-friendly communities. In China, the Guanghan city government has designed a community with 100 eco-friendly homes with renewable energy for power, solar heating and biogas for cooking purpose. These clearly demonstrate that eco-friendly housing projects can work.''

Among the Muttrah Group members are three architecture students, an engineering student and students of marketing. The team has divided the task into layout, urban house design and materials, and awareness and promotion campaign. The team met community members to know what they wanted. They found that the demand was for urbanised homes with more facilities. Taha Murtadha Muhammed al Issani, a marketing student from SQU on the team, said,

''Unfortunately, there is not enough awareness on the eco-friendly concept. We want to create a city which gives people better living standards, an affordable lifestyle and healthy living. Ten years from now, we want to develop a city that is advanced and self-sustainable. Our challenge lies in educating people about what we want to do.'' About his MYS experience so far he said, ''It's been incredible. We're getting to witness and learn.''

Team member Rianne Jacobs, an international student from Hogeschool Leiden in the Netherlands, said, ''The summit is bigger than I expected. Our group has been assigned the low cost housing project. I would like to come back to Duqm ten years from now to see how the city has developed.''

Ahmed Khamis al Balushi, an engineering student from Caledonian College of Engineering and part of the team said, ''We have a plan for 35 compact houses. We have explored numerous options in terms of materials, techniques and plans that will consume less wat


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