Thomas Heatherwick designs clustered boutique hotel development in Abu Dhabi

London-based architecture practice, Heatherwick Studio, run by Thomas Heatherwick, is set to design a boutique hotel development in Abu Dhabi that utilises clustered forms and courtyards.

The Ras Al Akhdar project has launched today (17 April) at Cityspace Abu Dhabi by developers IMKAN, who are also behind BIG-designed art space The Artery and MVRDV’s mixed-use Pixel development; which all form the larger Makers District creative hub in the UAE’s capital.

The design of the boutique hotel will reference the identity, history and culture of Abu Dhabi, and the wider Emirates.

“Our brief from IMKAN called for a new hospitality project in Abu Dhabi that could also serve as a new landmark for the region,” Dani Rossello Diez, group leader at Heatherwick Studio, told designMENA. 

Diez explained that the overall development took its design cues from the urban spread of cities across the Middle East, utilising clustered buildings and courtyards.

“As a starting point in our design process, we first investigated the local context and physical characteristics of Islamic cities of the region and discovered an amazing urban language consisting of clustered building forms as well as medinas with alleys organized in an organic and porous way, often arranged around courtyards used for social interaction,” he said.

“Inspired by this richness and complexity, we sought to use these forms to educate the identity of our project as well as inform the program. By organising the hotel rooms and apartments around a series of courtyards, the courtyards themselves could then be organised around one another to create a human scale intricacy that we had found and loved through our research of Islamic cities,” Diez added.

Ras Al Akhdar will offer serviced residences, in addition to a set of amenities that include an ‘oasis arrival experience’. The site is in close proximity to the sea, and will incorporate a boardwalk and a new marine terminal ‘to off-shore islands’, according to the developers.

“We really like the idea of raising up the mass of the building to offer the best views across to the sea and the sky,” Diez told designMENA.

“This also enabled us to create an open space that in turn allows for a great deal of useful shaded space at ground level as well as an experience for visitors that will be populated by lush greenery and water like that of the oasis. In fact, the dune blends with the beach, creating a smooth transition into the oasis at arrival.”

He added that the clustered forms of the development aims to draw “interest and intrigue from afar” as a way to link the site with the nearby boardwalk and marine terminal.

The boutique hotel development is being showcased alongside IMKAN’s regional and international projects such as the Sheikh Fatima Park in Abu Dhabi, Al Burouj in Cairo, Carmine in Marrakech and a high-profile mixed used project in Rabat.

IMKAN can be found at stand numbers 9B10 and 9B20 at Cityscape Abu Dhabi, which runs from April 17-19 2018.

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