Dezeen Magazine

Thomas Heatherwick unveils "sunken oasis" for Abu Dhabi

News: British designer Thomas Heatherwick has revealed plans to create a cavernous public park in Abu Dhabi beneath a fragmented canopy resembling the cracked surface of the Arabian desert.

Occupying a 125,000 square-metre site, Thomas Heatherwick's Al Fayah Park will provide play areas, picnic areas, vegetable gardens and cafes, interspersed with a variety of plants and flowers native to the Gulf.

A series of columns will support the floating roof canopy, beneath which the designer will also add a public library, a mosque, an outdoor cinema, and indoor and outdoor performance spaces that can be used for live music, festivals and community events.

Al Fayah Park by Thomas Heatherwick is a "sunken oasis" for Abu Dhabi

"Al Fayah Park incorporates a series of very special column structures, like the cracked pieces of a desert surface, which gently raise to form a three-dimensional landscape across the site," said Heatherwick. "These elevated pieces create a perforated canopy of partial shade under which a lush garden can grow, protected from the hot desert sun."

He continued: "This sunken oasis becomes a landscape of plants, mature trees and a cluster of public recreational spaces. The 20-metre-high shaded garden is conceived as a place for families to gather and picnic, as well as a place for learning and festivals."

"By creating partial shade for plants, the canopy reduces the amount of water lost to evaporation, improving the park's energy efficiency and sustainability. Whilst providing shade in the daytime, the elevated plates also become a network of unique meeting places in the cooler evening hours."

Al Fayah Park by Thomas Heatherwick is a "sunken oasis" for Abu Dhabi

Construction is set to begin on the project later this year, with the park scheduled to open in early 2017. It will be funded by non-profit organisation the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation.

"The park will incorporate a plethora of activities and unique features that support the foundation’s key pillars of education, arts, culture, heritage and health," said Iman Khouri, a spokesperson for the foundation.

"It will be reminiscent of traditional design inspired by the UAE desert, but thoroughly modern in its presentation that will attract both local residents and international visitors alike. As such, it puts Abu Dhabi among the world’s leading global cities for innovative outdoor public spaces," he added.