Exclusive: OP—EN re-imagines public spaces in Dubai

Interdisciplinary creative practice and think-tank, OP—EN, has proposed an alternative to the incessant high-rise boom, through a project research entitled, the “Urban Botanical Pavilion”. The spaces serves as a public sanctuary, allowing residents and pedestrians to easily access the open and “non-commercial” environment.

Established in Dubai since 2013, Ahmed Salman, founder and principal of the company stated that these ideas and thinking started from years before.

“Interdisciplinary thinking and work is a key tenet as our philosophy is that creativity has no boundaries which is becoming more self-evident in today’s world,” he said.


The project itself, designed by Salman, aims to foster new modes of urban experience through a immerse, public space that breaks the monotony of the skyscraper aesthetic; simultaneously blurring disciplinary boundaries.

As its name suggests, the pavilion features botanical and flowing water elements, fusing architecture and art that results in a sensory experience for visitors which he believes is a vital part of cities offerings.

In terms of the approach to the project, the structure is made monolithic and geometric with an underground water feature as on of its primary components. Additional elements are revealed through further exploration, which deepens the visitors experience of the space.

Large centre-hinged doors are set on either side of the structure and allows the space to be fully open for a greater flow of visitors.

Inside the pavilion, two levels of “botanical wormholes” are revealed, encasing lush flora within a modular translucent mesh, suspended from a kinetic photovatlaic canopy.

The canopy is made up of individually-controlled photovaltaic panels, where solar energy is harnessed and multiple cell-configurations can be realised. This creates an ever-changing array of interior lighting effects.

Below, the underground water feature extends beyond the edges of the structure and into the surrounding space. Glimpses of water and floating lights can be observed through the glass tile blocks within the pavilion’s interior as well as through benches made from acrylic, which are dispersed across the immediate exterior.

The aspect of flowing water offers a natural soundscape while complementing the underlying design ethos.

Speaking of the project, Salman said: “Balancing many elements in a fast-moving urban environment is key to a thriving city where we see more commercial spaces fast encroaching on any area deemed fit. The ‘Urban Botanical Pavilion’ engages the public strictly with aesthetics while creating a context for exchange and communal integration.”

To view more images of the project click here:  http://op-en.is/URBAN-BOTANICAL-PAVILION


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