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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mohammed Bin Rashid Gardens: Dubai (I)

The City: Scaled around walk-able distances that provide easy access to food, healthcare and education, this enlightened model of urban planning will help reverse the Gulf’s existing commuter culture that has eroded both communities and the environment.Celebrating the intricate geometry of Arabian art and science its 56 million square feet of verdant parks and gardens divide an 880 million square foot city into a network of sustainable neighbourhoods, each containing the molecule of daily life. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Gardens represent the most innovative approach to urban form to be found anywhere in the Middle East.

The Form: The Mohammed Bin Rashid Gardens offer a culturally resonant alternative to the sterile Western-style street grids that currently dominate the Middle East. It maps the movements of celestial bodies through the vastness of space, etching them onto a brass plate that can be held in the palm of the hand. Dubai is likewise a product of great imagination: A royal vision for a modern city that has risen from an ancient land. To base a new city plan upon an object embodying 2000 years of human invention is to build upon the bedrock of civilisation itself.They replace those rigid, rectilinear lines with the sweeping arcs and circles of the planispheric astrolabe; an instrument perfected by Islamic scholars, craftsmen and astronomers. Fusing the spheres of art and astronomy into an intricate object of enduring beauty, the astrolabe represents one of the greatest leaps of human imagination.

The Gardens: A literal translation of the astrolabe’s ornate brass rete, the city’s parks and gardens form a lush green net that catches all the cultural and residential districts within its spreading strands. The lungs of the city, these linear public parks act as carbon sinks that purify the surrounding air while providing shaded ‘green corridors’ that support sustainable modes of transport. Drawing upon the rich heritage of Islamic landscape design the Mohammed Bin Rashid Gardens will be a city of canals and fountains, pools and lakes. Their cooling surfaces shall temper the heat of the day, while the sound of trickling water will help create oases of calm amidst the busy metropolis. With garlands of golf courses, bridleways, cycle paths and promenades, the citizens will have ample opportunity to enjoy a healthy active lifestyle.


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