The design concept for the Central Park is based on a contemporary expression of classic urban design principles and archetypes. The park design will be a celebration of the Sowwah Island vision, seamlessly combing the infrastructure and cultural context of the Abu Dhabi 2030 plan, with a contemporary aesthetic complementing the variety of modern buildings in the heart of the Central Business District. Sowwah Island Central Park is a single composition of diverse component parts derived from a layered system of physical and social determinants, tempered by human and cultural behavioral patterns. The influence of each layer is determined by its relative importance to shape the form of the park as well as influence the design philosophy and project approach. It is meant to be experienced and viewed from a variety of vantage points and to convey a meaningful experience to each one, holistically perceived as an artistic creation in itself.
Sowwah Island Central Park is unique in that the largest part of the land reserved for the park is on podium (Level 14), which is subject to structural limitations of the podium design as well as easements for utilities and infrastructure. However, the need to integrate varying levels of podium structure into the park provided opportunities to express the vertical and horizontal contrast in levels as well as the contrast between the verdant green planes of the park and the grey metallic and glass faces of the surrounding architectural fabric. Adjacency to a multitude of transportation modes, and the opportunity to be viewed from almost directly overhead from the adjacent buildings, lead to a complex approach seeking connectivity between the air, land, and water. The intimacy gradient of the park experience dictated a response that was as powerful standing on the ground as it was viewed from 90 m overhead.
The importance of the vertical component of the design narrative became the metaphor for the design of the concept report. The various components of the report such as site analysis, design inspiration and precedent archetypes was presented from the perspective of a vertical transect based on the points of observation ranging from 90 meters overhead to standing on the ground within the park. The overall plan composition was approached from the highest level, with each chapter subsequently descending closer of the park, and in so doing changing the resolution of the narrative from the macro to the micro or intimate level of interaction and experience.
Each chapter was introduced with a narrative describing the level of intimacy or resolution of the experience. An illustration of the central element of the park, the amphitheater, was presented with the text, with each subsequent chapter viewing the amphitheater and adjacent transit station from a perspective closer and closer to the ground. Designated as E1 Awareness, E2 Interest, E3 Anticipation, and E4 Immersion, the experiential titles were intended to evoke feelings of heightened experience as the observer would approach the park from higher levels, becoming ever more participatory with the experience.
Visual explanations or models were created to communicate abstract concepts in terms of tactile constructs or natural phenomena that an audience of diverse backgrounds could relate to. These visual explanations were then combined in order to create the transect model as a means concisely communicating and defending the design determinants, analysis, and conceptual basis of the design.
The feasibility of the conceptual design was explored and developed into a preliminary schematic design via computer generated models and a multitude of sections and elevations. These drawings were used to formulate preliminary cost estimates and water consumption calculations for the fountains and irrigation system. As part of the final submission, the client requested representative design guidelines prepared by the design firm which were applicable to the region.
Sowwah Island Central Park and Spanish Steps
Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
Company Name: MESA
IMAGES CREDIT: MESA
Texas Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects
2011 Award of Excellence – Communications
Graphic Design USA
2011 InHouse Design Award