Sowwah Island Central Park | Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

In 2010, Mubadala held an international competition for a park and waterfront promenade at the center of the new Abu Dhabi Sowwah Island development, which includes new districts for commerce and entertainment as well as several major new roadways that connect the island to the rest of the city. Landworks Studio—whose initial scheme prompted organizers to select it as a finalist for the narrower concept design competition—seized upon the particular multi-layer urbanity of the man-made island in their proposal that envisions the twin axes of the Grand Boulevard and the Spanish Steps as thickened landscape infrastructure to knit together the island’s neighborhoods, residential and office building lobbies, parking garages, and community centers.

Landworks Studio’s proposal for Sowwah Island Central Park is an exercise in urban adaptation: not only must the park negotiate a complex web of subgrade, at-grade, and above-grade buildings, transit, and mechanical infrastructure, but also it has to act as the island’s heart, skin, lungs, and connective tissue by bringing people together, protecting them from a harsh climate, and providing lush green microclimates that draw them outside. The re-imagining of a park as thickened infrastructure rather than a simple planted surface allows the proposal to be successful on all counts as it connects the park and commercial district to surrounding neighborhoods, orchestrates encounters between multiple user groups, and most importantly in a rapidly growing global metropolis, helps to position the city within a larger system of connected ecologies.

Client: John Buck International Mubadala Development Company
Architects: CBT Architects
Civil: Buro Happold
Status: Invited Competition Submission 2010