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Thu 25 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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Backward glance

Commercial Outdoor Design revisits some of the projects featured over the past year.

Commercial Outdoor Design revisits some of the projects featured over the past year.

The year 2008 has been a significant one for outdoor design projects.

From the announcement of Arabian Canal back at the start of the year to the unveiling of Mohammed Bin Rashid Gardens in April, there has been a steady trickle of new projects with a sizable outdoor element be it open space, greenery or waterfront.

According to figures cited by CMPI UAE, organisers of last month's Gulf Landscaping show, there are currently an estimated 2,100 projects planned or under way in the Gulf valued at over US$1,000 billion.

The value of landscaping within this figure is estimated to be at approximately 10% of the construction cost creating ample opportunity for outdoor design professionals working in the region.

In addition to developers putting more focus on the inclusion of open space within new developments, there are a host of golf courses and theme parks under construction.

In its first year of publication, Commercial Outdoor Design has been fortunate enough to gain exclusive access to many of these projects, both those still in the planning stages and completed works.

Projects we have profiled over the past year include City of Arabia, Dubai; Al Raha Beach, Abu Dhabi; Durrat Al Bahrain, Bahrain; Emerald Gateway, Abu Dhabi; Oqyana, one of the island projects on The World; Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai; Al Barari, Dubai; and Jumeriah Golf Estates, Dubai.

As year draws to a close, COD takes a look back at some of the projects featured to see where they are at now.

City of Arabia

Developed by Ilyas and Mustafa Galadari Group, City of Arabia sprawls across 1.9 million m2 of lands in Dubailand. The multi-purpose project will include a mall, a dinosaur theme park, and a waterside area  called Wadi Walk.

Commenting on the project, Bruce MacDougall, head of landscape at the Dubai office of Hyder Acla, said the firm was concluding its work having submitted the tender documentation for the project in 2006.

"We have had a response from the client that there are some minor revisions to make to the plans but we are pretty much at the end of our contract," he said.

Some design changes would be necessary to accommodate the landscape design in line with significant changes to buildings and underground structures, he added.

ArabianCanal, Dubai

Landscape masterplanner SWA Group is now working with the marine engineers on the design of the canal edge systems of the 75-kilometre long waterway.In an emailed update of the project, Kinder Baumgardner, principal of SWA, said that the firm was looking to use a variety of design solutions for the edges rather than lining the entire canal with quay wall as was done at Dubai Marina.

"Some areas will have significant habitat value, others will have terraces and floating walkways," he noted.

Schematic design on the project has just begun on phase one, the 3000-hectare southern most portion of the project, while phase two and three are in the detailed masterplanning phase of the work, he said.

The landscape design work is expected to continue for another three plus years, he added.

One of the changes during the design stage has been a shift in perspective, says Baumgardner.

"When we started the project, we thought of it as mainly being about the canal. However, as we went through the design process we learned that the topography of the project was equally important. Dubai is a relatively flat place; however the Arabian Canal project will have manmade hills that soar to above 200 metres in height. Special villa neighborhoods will be set into these hills and look over the urban cityscape that lines the canal."

Under development by Limitless, the US$11billion Arabian Canal is one of the largest development projects in the region. The canal is the largest canal project in the Middle East since the construction of the Suez canal in 1859.

Al Raha Beach, Abu Dhabi

Approximately 80% of the Eastern half of Al Raha Beach project has been documented, while there is still a fair amount of design work to do on the Western part of the project, according to Craig Guthrie, associate director landscape architecture at EDAW, which has an overall design role on the project as well as working on four of the 11 precincts on the location.

Regional practice Green Concepts is also working on the project, doing landscape documentation.

Commenting on the design changes to the landscape, Guthrie said that the pushing out and under of private lots into the public realm was one factor resulting in changes.

The 10-kilometre waterfront project is one of Abu Dhabi's largest projects. Built largely on reclaimed land, it is planned that an estimated 120,000 people will eventually live in the area.

Al Raha Beach will have five beaches, four marinas, and three parks as well as a variety of gardens.

Open space is expected to account for approximately 1,464,512m2 of the total development.

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