An existing park, dedicated in 2007, has failed to draw the numbers of visitors necessary to energize it as a vital public space. This is in part due to the park’s location - remote from residential districts - and to limited public access which does not encourage full use of the park. Large, over-scaled open spaces are insufficiently shaded to promote comfort in the desert environment; and too few facilities have been established to create a critical mass of attraction and activity, resulting in the failure of those facilities. In light of these conditions, and recognizing that Khalifa Park will ultimately serve as the centerpiece of a new planned district as part of the Abu Dhabi Plan 2030, the Tourism Development and Investment Company’ (TDIC) has commissioned a design team led by GREC to envision a world-class park and cultural destination.
The development program includes cultural institutions, family entertainment and attractions, hotel and conference center, public gathering spaces and an extensive natural environment with an interpretive landscape experience. The centerpiece of the development is a large lagoon which unifies the attractions and offers stunning views. A monumental fountain anchors the lagoon and provides an evening light and water show that extends throughout the park.
The cultural attractions include a major arts exposition pavilion and an arts district with galleries, a center for traditional Islamic arts, shops and a jazz dinner club. The family entertainment district features a children’s museum, restaurants, and a botanical biodome sculpted to echo the desert dunes and housing rain and fog forests and lowland marsh environments. The five-star lifestyle hotel services 150 guestrooms and suites, and includes full conference facilities, restaurants and amenities. Parking for park visitors and guests is dispersed throughout for convenience and is located under structured landscape topography.
The design of the landscape fabric throughout is based on the historic trade routes of the Spice Route and the Silk Road, and the environments and cultures these routes traversed. Through varied design expressions, the rich diversity of plant materials from these regions are featured throughout. By way of trails throughout the park, visitors can experience environments as diverse as riparian, savanna, desert, high desert and highlands montane.
The design team’s charge includes thorough analysis and proposed solutions to economic, construction, operational, and project phasing challenges.
The design team led by GREC was charged with envisioning a world-class destination to include cultural institutions, family entertainment, and public gathering spaces in an extensive landscaped natural environment. A large lagoon unifies the attractions and is anchored by a monumental fountain providing evening light and water shows. A botanical biodome sculpted to echo the desert dunes houses rain and fog forests and lowland marsh environments.