Abu Dhabi's New Park Will Hide a 30-Acre Oasis Below Parched Desert

By Eric Rydin on at

The United Arab Emirates has been overrun with a surge of costly and extravagant developments over the past decade including the Palm Islands and Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Now, a 125,000-square-metre park in Abu Dhabi will join them—but this isn't your average mega-development.

The beautiful design is credited to Thomas Heatherwick, the imaginative and innovative architect – most famous for designing the Olympic torch for London 2012, and the new London Routemaster buses – who has a rich history of implementing the natural surroundings of the site's locations into his projects. Here, he uses the distinctive texture of a dry and cracked desert as the façade for the canopied design that shades the park.

Abu Dhabi's New Park Will Hide a 30 Acre Oasis Below Parched Desert

Proposed for completion in 2017, Al Fayah Park will boast a seemingly endless network of canopies that double as walkable terraces. Additionally, they will house a vibrant microcosm of life underneath complete with cafés, community gardens, a public library, recreational spaces, as well as public pools and saunas. "These elevated pieces [will also] create a perforated canopy of partial shade under which a lush garden can grow, protected from the hot desert sun," Heatherwick notes.

Abu Dhabi's New Park Will Hide a 30 Acre Oasis Below Parched Desert

However, despite the surplus of growth and wealth that has been flowing into the UAE, there is still a shortage and dependence on water that strangles these projects and makes them both costly and inefficient. Therefore, finding a way to create a sustainable model for the park was a challenge for Heatherwick.

Consequently, he elected to abandon the traditional park design that relies too heavily on irrigation to water its countless blankets of grass. Instead, Heatherwick opted for a natural solution that will limit the evaporation of the park's water by reducing the intensity of the sun.

Abu Dhabi's New Park Will Hide a 30 Acre Oasis Below Parched Desert

The park's design is not only beautiful, it is highly functional as it blends the natural landscape into a self-sustaining simulacrum of itself. "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," thus, protecting the integrity of the desert's most natural resource—its beauty.

Images: Thomas Heatherwick.