Interview: Heatherwick wants to celebrate local landscape for new Abu Dhabi park

Plans for a desert park in the heart of Abu Dhabi were revealed this week at Cityscape.

“When parks are being designed it seems that many people copy the European idea and emphasise greenery,” said Thomas Heatherwick, during an interview at Cityscape.

“But what I wanted to do was celebrate the landscape here. The desert is a thing of beauty and that is what I wanted to celebrate.”

Al Fayah Park will feature play areas, exercise paths, an organic fruit and vegetable garden which will supply the cafes and restaurants in the park, along with an oasis of flowers and plants native to the GCC.

The park will also have a dedicated public library, picnic area, mosque, outdoor cinema, and indoor/outdoor arenas to host live performances, local festivals and community activities.

“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.”

“This sunken oasis becomes a landscape of plants, mature trees and a cluster of public recreational spaces.  The twenty meter 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.”