Location: Dubai
Date: 2014
Client: Majid al Futtaim
Status: Feasibility Study
Size: 481,000m² (182,000m² hotels & residences, 9,000m² events, 10,000m² arts, 40,000m² F&B, 40,000m² retail, 200,000m² parking)
Credits: ACME Team (Rodrigo Cañizanes, Monica Capitanio, Friedrich Ludewig)
Dubai is maturing quickly. 60 years ago it was a sleepy village by the creek. 10 years ago it was a city of brash towers, air-conditioned shopping malls and highways. But people’s taste matures, and so does their appreciation of authenticity, the exterior environment, nature and culture. Mall of the Emirates is a typical suburban American mega-mall, supplanted into Arabia. With few openings to the outside, the spatial organisation is quite introverted, anchored by the usual department stores and leisure, plus a ski slope. 15 years ago, this was groundbreaking, and it continues to attract 40m visitors per annum. But growth is starting to decline, and in order to ensure its long term future, it needs to become more complex and urban.
To that end, Gardens of the Emirates uses the space adjacent to the existing scheme to build an urban extension that embraces the outdoor environment and adds a range of urban functions currently missing in Dubai. It creates a sequence of shallow lakes and water features that invite play and touching. An adaptation of the folding umbrellas of Mecca gives flexible degrees of shade and cooling. The existing community theatre is moved outside and given prominence, and an additional major art venue and a concert venue with 20,000 seats is added, surrounded by 4 hotels and residential buildings to bring night-time use and activation to the area.