London-based landscape design firm Martha Schwartz designed a green retreat in Abu Dhabi’s Sowwah Square, at the heart of Al Maryah Island, referencing Bedouin carpets and sand dunes in teardrop-shaped landscaping.
The public plaza features a colorfully patterned granite paving and a variety of plant-covered mounds as well as incorporating granite seating elements, garden beds, sculpted hedges and rows of Indian fig trees.
“The inspiration for the square was derived from the nature and culture inherent to the Arabian Peninsula: dunes, traditional irrigation systems (falaj), oases, bedouin textiles and the popular use of formal clipped hedges in the United Arab Emirates, drawing connections with the French baroque château gardens,” said the architects.
“All the plant species used in the project were selected for their hardiness, low maintenance and drought and heat tolerance,” the architects added.
The teardrop-shaped mounds are dotted through the square, some of them forming centre-pieces to the granite benches, acting as wind shelters.
The polished grey-granite benches encircle the mounds and have grooves carved into their surfaces, allowing bubbling streams of water to run across them, offering a space to cool off from the heat.
The benches come in six variations. Some have extended seats, while others have high backs or wider leaning space. At night, the base of each benches is illuminated.