Our MENA Studio based in Dubai has recently completed a unique package of urban engagement projects in collaboration with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), that were approved at the end of April by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
LWK+PARTNERS were given the challenge to revitalise the cities’ public realm, mobility and permeability needs in partnership with RTA. The studio focused on the pedestrian experience and place-making, which can be achieved by utilising advanced integrated transport technology, and the activation of the public realm by inclusion of Public Art and improved mobility.
The design brief highlighted the needs for better connectivity across the city and opportunities to create new destinations at strategically important locations. The six commissioned projects established an imperative of addressing the need for ‘Urban Transformation’ across the city of Dubai and making it more human-centric.
Hanging Garden Bridge (Sky Garden)
The concept was loosely based on the historically recognized notion of the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon”. Expect here a green Oasis is “Suspended” in the air across Dubai Creek, linking the Al Seef area to the Deira side towards the Union Square.
The bridge spans 380m in length, 60m in height and covers an area of 3,422m2 . It will be a new Dubai landmark and tourist destination for residents and visitors, it will connect many of the city’s existing landmarks along the shores of Dubai Creek. It has a hanging garden extending along the length of the bridge together with multi-level lanes for strolling, cycling and running.
Sheikh Zayed Road promenade
A challenge in designing a successful urban space is encouraging visitors to take active participation in their surroundings. Such placemaking initiatives can be achieved through the use of public art, commercial and F&B kiosks and community engagement components all of which the Sheikh Zayed new activation cleverly responds to in rejuvenating the harsh public realm experience that currently prevails.
Sheikh Zayed Road occupies some of the most centrally located public space in Dubai. The promenade is located between Dubai World Trade Centre and Financial Centre Metro Stations and utilises the area underneath the Dubai Metro viaduct, transforming it into a 2.5 km green artery for the public to engage in walking, cycling, gathering and contributing to public events and engagements. The walkways include three key nodes – Bazaar Street, Technology Park and Urban Park covering an area of 54,000m2.
The new beachfront destination features a unique range of activities it covers an area of 80,000m2 connected to Jumeirah Beach Walk and specially designed to cater for family entertainment.
Dealing with the site restrictions and narrow beach depth, Sunset Promenade offers a range of small Islands which would be partially reclaimed and floating pontoons/platforms, to provide additional seafront facilities with a total beach area of 107,000m2 .The floating portion is designed not disturb the seabed and the surrounding marine life, providing unique opportunities for a more ecologically sensitive development.
In areas that face high traffic volume and congestion an attempt to encourage more vibrant Public Realm activities is needed to assist in mitigating the unfriendly pedestrian environment. Deira Plaza is designed to promote environmentally comfortable public spaces by offering an Urban Plaza programme, without compromising the much-needed vehicular parking facilities required by residents and visitors.
The Plaza will cover an area of 35,000m2 and provides a multi-layered urban public space for entertainment and community activities. The design sensitively increases the parking numbers to around 1000 spaces, as well as including a series of urban parks, performance and event facilities, with food and beverage outlets which provide unique urban experiences in Deira.
The suspended transit system links vital spots across the city such as the Dubai Financial Centre and the Downtown with the Business Bay. Passing through the Happiness Street and runs up to City Walk, through tracks extending one kilometre in length, the project, which has 21 stations and the capacity to transit 8,400 riders per hour per direction offering an urban transit experience.
The Cable Car network will be integrated with the cities exciting wider transport system. Miniating a futuristic feel to the urban transit experience is curtail and that was considered during the design exercise for terminal and arriving stations.
Umm Suqeim pedestrian bridge
110m pedestrian bridge above Jumeirah Street with dedicated cycling and running lanes. The bridge facilitates better connectivity between Umm Suqeim & Jumeirah. The bridge aims to encourage pedestrian activities and promote safe and environmentally comfortable public spaces across the city. Connecting some of the key destinations like the Madinat Jumeirah Souq, to the Mall of the Emirates Metro links, and across to the Dubai Hills Mall.
We Thank Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) for this exceptional opportunity and we highly appreciate them selecting us as their trusted collaboration partner for such high calibre projects. LWK+PARTNERS employ 20 years of experience in urbanism and research where they helped shaping experiences that focus on communities and pedestrians. We believe emphasis should always be on a connected urbanism and on the people, their health and how urbanism can improve their lives. By investing in the needs of the residents and devoting the necessary resources to funding human-centric projects, cities can improve the lives of individuals and thereby make society more productive and happier.