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Shams Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Sorouh Investments, a publicly traded international real estate development firm in Abu Dhabi, UAE, selected us to revise the Master Plan and design the Central Park which will serve as a focal point of its Shams Abu Dhabi project, a major mixed-use development located on Al Reem Island off the northern shore of the capital city. The new development is designed to accommodate 55,000 residents. We successfully competed against three international design teams to win the park competition. As envisioned in the developers’ earlier Master Plan, the Central Park comprises approximately one million square feet of open space and associated recreational amenities. Four kilometers of water canals are planned throughout the development, and the park’s canals and lagoon serve as the confluence of the city’s canal and open space system.

Our winning plan separates the park into three distinct areas: The Island is envisioned as a place that is easily accessible yet set apart from the city environment as an oasis of green. It is devoted to pure landscape with simple provisions to accommodate an ever-changing program of uses and activities. The Tidal Lagoon serves as a dramatic terminus of the canals which run through the park and provides a strong visual and physical connection to the island’s waterfront and to the mangrove islands outside the site. The third area, The Loop, provides a one-way, paired water route around the island for canal boats carrying park users and international visitors.

The plan respects the traditional need of privacy for families and women with children by separating the park into two domains, the upper park or Belvedere, and the lower park or Plaisance. The Belevedere is designed to be enjoyed in private pursuits, with places for children to play, or small cafes or sitting areas where groups can meet, while the Plaisance is an island with canal-side walks, a place to see and to be seen.

The park includes retail shops and cafes bordering the canal promenade and three levels of parking below the entire park serving park users and residents around the park.

Shams Central Park Comp Plan Hand Rendered

Sorouh Investment

1 million sq ft

2008 Cityscape Architectural Awards, Highly Commended for the Best Master Planning Award; 2007 CNBC Arabian Property Awards, Best Development Award

Business Line
Commercial / Mixed-Use; Parks & Open Spaces; Planning; Waterfronts

Middle East

Phil Colleran, Associate Director, Principal