'There is a sense of community'
"I've lived in villas most of my life - as a child in Marseille and the Ivory Coast... and here in Abu Dhabi since the early 1980s," says Marc Laurenti, the owner of Paris-Abu Dhabi Art Gallery. "I initially decided on an apartment due to availability: there are more apartments on the market than villas. Second, apartments are cheaper than villas. And third, it's about location. Villas are mostly away from the city centre. It's better to shorten the distance between home and office. With an apartment you can walk or take public transport rather than driving from a villa far away."
Laurenti lives with his wife and children in a duplex penthouse in Al Sahel Tower, on the Corniche. He also runs his gallery from there. "The apartment is so well configured that we could divide it into two distinct areas [for the gallery and our private space]. Clients love it because it doesn't have a cold atmosphere and it feels very private and special. We personalise every visit in a way that you can only do in an apartment."
For Laurenti there are many benefits to apartment living: "You don't have to bother looking for a parking space; you have yours waiting for you. There's direct access to the elevator from the car park so we aren't outside when it's raining or hot and humid. With maintenance everything is taken care of; in a villa, you have to fend for yourself. In case of emergency, we can call our neighbours for help, a door away. There's a sense of community living within the building, which doesn't exist in a villa, where you're on your own, surrounded by fences or a wall."
"We're fortunate to have an apartment with large spaces so we don't suffer proximity issues. Besides, we have a balcony and a rooftop terrace. I'm lucky to be married to a woman of many talents, who has established a Zen Japanese garden - a suspended garden, just like in the ancient city of Babylon."
Updated: January 16, 2010 04:00 AM