Following the rapid growth of the city’s recent development, a proposal for Al Fayah Park re-conceives a major piece of public land in Abu Dhabi, aiming to provide public space that includes community gardens, recreational areas, a library, and an outdoor cinema.
The United Arab Emirates has been overrun by a number of unique and innovative developments over the past decade, such as the Palm Islands and the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, and the new 125,000 square metre park in Abu Dhabi will complement them, creating a green, oasis-like park under the desert floor.
The project, designed by London-based Heatherwick Studio, will be located in Dubai, the capital and the second most populous city in the United Arab Emirates. The design embraces the topology of a cracked desert floor, setting the park's green space twenty metres below a surface of fractal-shaped roof structures supported by large columns.
According to architect Thomas Heatherwick, the main challenge in designing a park in the desert was to provide protection for visitors and vegetation from the desert sun. The project aims to offer a place for relaxation and leisure while being energy efficient and sustainable in its use of water to irrigate the plants and vegetation.
The new park is supposed to replace an existing green public area that required a significant amount of purified water to irrigate it, counteracting evaporation caused by the intense sunlight. The purified water is produced industrially from salty sea water using a costly and high energy consuming desalination process.
“The idea for the park’s design was developed in response to these challenges and as a way of celebrating the beauty of the desert and its distinct surrounding landscape. Instead of denying the presence of the desert that the city is built on, we set ourselves the task of making a park out of the desert itself,” Heatherwick said.
The architects studied the patterns of the desert landscape and experimented with the shapes created when the earth cracks from the heat of the sun.
“We also became fascinated by how, in previous times, people living in such intense heat had grown their vegetables in the shade of a palm tree to reduce the strength of the sun’s rays,” they said.
The project evolved as a series of cracked pieces of the desert floor supported by columns that creates a perforated canopy of partial shade under which a green garden can grow like a ‘sunken oasis.’ By creating partial shade for the plant life, the canopy will reduce the amount of water lost through evaporation, helping to improve the park’s energy efficiency and sustainability.
Proposed for completion in 2017, Al Fayah Park is expected to create a new meeting place for families and friends and a space for public events and festivals. It will include cafés, playgrounds, a library, an outdoor cinema, swimming pools, streams and community vegetable gardens. In addition, the elevated plates will become a network of social and meeting places during the cooler evening hours.