OBMI installation

OBMI creates undulating installation to mimic Middle Eastern mangrove forests

US studio OBMI has designed Once Upon a Forest for Dubai Design Week, an installation featuring gently sloping organic shapes that nod to the mangrove forests that characterise parts of the United Arab Emirates.

Once Upon a Forest was created by OBMI for the eighth edition of Dubai Design Week. This year, the event is themed Design With Impact and aims to question how designers can become more sustainable.

OBMI installation
The installation is part of Dubai Design Week

Visitors to the installation are invited to enter a maze-like arrangement of structures topped with undulating canopies, which the architecture studio designed to reference the mangrove forests that cover much of the UAE's landscape.

OBMI handcrafted the installation from 2,700 metres of bamboo, 350 square metres of jute rope and 30 kilometres of jute mesh, all of which were sourced from the Middle East and North African (MENA) region.

Once Upon a Forest was created using solely sustainable materials and construction methods, according to the architecture studio.

Bamboo structure
Bamboo and jute were used to create the structure

"Our goal is to educate and inspire the community about the benefits and beauty of the mangrove forests by providing an immersive experience that ignites the senses and showcases nature's power to mitigate climate change," OBMI told Dezeen.

"The mangrove forests are the UAE's most valuable natural treasure and the installation honours the diverse environment of the seven Emirates in the city's urban centre."

An integrated audio-visual experience plays information about the mangrove forests within the installation, which intends to serve as an educational "oasis" for visitors within Dubai Design District.

"The floating canopies play with light and shadows to create an intimate and serene ambience, delivering a dreamlike experience that mimics nature, acting as a place of refuge and inspiration," said the architecture studio.

The project nods to the UAE's mangrove forests

OBMI said that after Dubai Design Week draws to a close at the end of this week, Once Upon a Forest will be repurposed for various other events during next year "as a celebration of Dubai's culture and natural landscape".

Earlier editions of Dubai Design Week featured projects including Exil Collective's showcase of work by emerging Lebanese designers and an installation of bricolage chairs made by working-class migrants in the UAE.

The photography is by Sebastian Böttcher.

Dubai Design Week takes place from 8 to 13 November 2022 in Dubai. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

More images and plans

Installation rendering
OBMI installation
OBMI installation
OBMI installation
OBMI installation