The Italian embassy in Doha organised a webinar on Thursday, highlighting the vital role of sustainable design in promoting and creating a conducive and safe working environment. Titled ‘Well-being in the workplace’, the event marked the Italian Design Day (IDD) 2020 – an initiative promoted worldwide by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation in collaboration with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism.
“I find it natural that we celebrate the IDD every year in Qatar, where I feel a natural connection with creativity and innovation,” Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas told attendees.
“In the dynamic and in constant transformation multicultural city of Doha, the leadership is always keen to promote a model of urban development which is sustainable and strives to improve the quality of life of citizens. A commitment Italy and Qatar share as a top priority in the agenda of our governments,” he said.
The webinar, held in co-operation with Park Associati (architectural practice based in Milan), International Labour Organisation project office in Qatar, the Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar, and Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), focused on IDD’s theme this year: “Drawing the future. Development, Innovation, Sustainability, Beauty”.
The webinar, the embassy noted, also forms part of the official programme of events within the 5th edition of the Qatar Sustainability Week (QSW), an initiative launched by QGBC aimed at “further engaging the community in a wide range of sustainability-oriented activities and showcasing the progress made so far in the areas of sustainability and green buildings.”
“I am also glad that this event falls this year within the QSW. It is part of our mission as an embassy to reinforce the existing connections with the hosting country and find a link between our mutual initiatives to contribute to “draw” together – as designers do in their daily activities – a better future,” Prunas said.
“Italian Design has the capacity and potential to do so. It is able to express at best transformation processes, interpret and meet new needs and create enduring beauty. Design is one of the highest forms of expression of Brand Italy, a brand recognised and appreciated worldwide – and I am proud to say particularly here in Qatar – for its extraordinary quality and innovative trends,” the envoy stressed.
The webinar also discussed the importance of designing office structures that would ensure the health and safety of workers, particularly in the face of a pandemic such as the novel coronavirus (Covid-19). Architect Michele Rossi from Park Associati said the design of office spaces should offer “a feeling or sense of belonging”, a green area, and an exciting place that positively impact people’s well-being and mood.
Dr Roberto Bertollini, advisor to the Minister of Public Health, Qatar, cited the country’s keenness in implementing a strategy and plan of action to “embrace the Healthy Cities approach, also in view of supporting readiness for the Qatar 2022 World Cup,” – highlighted in the Qatar National Health Strategy 2018-2022.
“We would like Doha to become a healthy city, meaning a city which promotes health to a variety of interventions, including beautification such as the improvements of parks, nature and many others,” he said. “This is a process that will support that finalisation of the preparation of the FIFA World Cup 2022 and will be certified by the World Health Organisation through a very established mechanism.”
“We cannot only rely on the goodwill of the people to go to the gym once a week, we have to create a city structure which promotes walking and cycling on a daily basis. This is something which is happening also somehow in Qatar,” said Dr Bertollini, adding that “a very particular provision is actually going towards the direction of increasing bike lanes substantially.”
“We are also aiming to use the World Cup to leave a legacy, with respect to physical activity, to encourage people to be more active in sport and recreation, and facilitate health education and promotion,” he added.
Other speakers at the webinar, moderated by architect Raffaello Furlan, assistant professor of Architecture and Urban Design at Qatar University, also include engineer Meshal al-Shamari, director of the Qatar Green Building Council; ILO project office head Houtan Homayounpour; Reem al-Sehlwai, director of Partnerships of the Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar.
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