Harvard School of Design defines ‘mixed use’ as at least two uses in one building where no component takes more than 60 per cent of the overall space. It could thus be any combination of residential, hospitality, office, retail and social space; the fundamental idea being the complementary nature and symbiotic relationship of co-existing asset classes. Along with bringing about an amalgamation of features, these projects also foster amenity-driven premium homes or offices within ‘walkable neighbourhoods’ that might comprise of restaurants, hospitality and other societal spaces.
Mixed-use developments made a humble beginning in colonial Europe but have now become an indivisible part of suburban areas in major cities across the world. Especially in India, encouragement from the Government, as well as the financial viability of mixed-land use projects due to their diversified risks have made the model extremely popular amongst real estate developers.
The benefits are plenty - Research shows that not just gen-next, the older generation also prefers living in neighbourhoods within close proximity of lifestyle needs; a requirement which mixed-use developments cater to with ease. Another survey points out that smart growth drivers like these cut down on infrastructure and public service delivery costs while generating substantial tax revenue. Mixed-use developments also allow investors to balance a poorly performing asset with a successful one, thus softening the impact on the total investment portfolio. Besides all these, a project like this in India has one huge advantage - multiple uses in a single space reduces the need to commute, taking care of the biggest concern of urban Indians.
Mixed-use projects however require careful and detailed planning on all aspects of construction, given their enormous scope, scale and variety of use. Be it appropriate distribution and delimitation of parking spaces, noise reduction between structures through the use of soundproofing, landscaping, optimal use of open space, ease of access or connectivity from multiple modes of transport – all these factors are not just crucial, they also need to be seamlessly integrated in order to form a certain kind of self-sustainable micro-city that will attract prospective buyers. Especially since different residents here will have different expectations from the same space.
Mixed-use projects have been the defining trend in bustling cities across the globe, like London, New York, San Francisco etc. for quite a few decades now. In India though, the trend is in its nascent stages.
As India turns progressively more urban, with land density increasing at a tremendous pace, mixed-use projects such as these will provide the roadmap for efficient, community-friendly and sustainable real estate development in future.
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