Contemporary cities are the centers of urban change, mirroring rapid global societal changes. Whether by armed conflict, economic deprivation, or perceived economic opportunities, people migrate to cities in search of better lives. As a result of upcoming challenges and pressures, urban planners are faced with hard tasks for accommodating the high influx of people while making cities sustainable. The starting point of urban social sustainability is inclusion, followed by equity and urban governance. Dubai is a unique model; it has a large transient expatriate population, and it is in the process of transforming into a global city. In this paper we aimed to understand the relationships between “common spaces” as elements of housing design, social interactions, and social inclusion in two selected community neighborhoods of Dubai. The study has a convergent parallel design, that is, it uses a case study method (observational analysis), quantitative research, and thematic analysis to develop a new paradigm in community neighborhoods designed for the transient population of Dubai.
A standard definition of sustainability as development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” requires the ability to identify and quantify needs as well as quantify a compromised ability of future generations to meet their needs. In a new engineering course in the “Appropriate and Sustainable Engineering” program, Seattle Pacific University is addressing how to analyze systems during the design activity to address such sustainability issues, including the use of exergy and resource depletion as measurable effects of systems; the consideration of life-cycle phases of development; manufacturing, testing, operations, and disposal; decision-making considering sustainability trade-off criteria; and managing life-cycle and design resources. Specific system design and analysis techniques are also included such as considerations for human-systems integration and safety and reliability in all life-cycle phases. Being able to quantify the sustainability measures yields an ability to quantitatively differentiate among competing alternative system designs based on specific life-cycle considerations and quantified sustainability impacts.