Zabeel Park: High-tech spec meets the ‘green’ revolution

Due to open in November, Zabeel Park is a welcome sign of ‘green’ in urban Dubai. With construction emphasis so often on mega skyscapers and residential projects, the development of this new park will breathe life into the heart of the city. Construction Week inhales the clean air and explores how the park was built and what it has to offer those in search of relaxation.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  October 22, 2005

|~|92proj200.gif|~|High -tech spec: Dubai Municipality has created a series of interactive displays, including educational and recreational exhibits, grouped into three separate parks.|~|For those in search of a touch of green to break up the urban sprawl of Dubai, the new Zabeel Park will no doubt be met with a sigh of relief. When the US $51 million (AED186 million) 46-hectare park throws open its gates to the public in November it will become the newest of the city’s public parks. Having already developed a number of well-liked green spaces, including Jumeirah Park, Safa Park, and Al Mamzar Park, Dubai Municipality was under pressure to create something that would maintain these high standards, while at the same time offer something different. To meet this end, the Municipality adopted a high-technology theme making it the first recreational park of its kind to be developed in the region. The theme means that the park features a series of high-tech interactive displays including educational and recreational exhibits grouped into three separate parks. Park A is the largest of the three parks and covers an approximate area of 281 000 m2. Four gatehouse buildings, each with their own water feature, provide access to the park, and within it there are four major elements: a sports area, the star gate, an amphitheatre, and a gallery and pizza building for displays and exhibitions. The amphitheatre was created with 8-m high mounds of earth to create terraced seating for 2000 spectators. The sports zone includes a jogging track that runs round both parks A and B, playgrounds for small children, and an adventure area for older children. The original plans included an IMAX theatre, which was scrapped in favour of the Star Gate. This feature is still under construction and will be completed as part of a separate contract after the rest of the park opens. The building will have five planets, linked together by underground tunnels with each planet offering a different activity. Aside from numerous smaller exhibits, play areas, water features, and barbeque areas, Park A also features the ‘Barcode Garden’, which includes hi-tech displays and water features, kiosks and runs through into Park B. Park B is connected to Park A by a cable-stayed bridge. There are three bridges altogether, with one running between Park B and Park C and another linking Park A to Karama. The bridges will be for pedestrians and road trains (tyred train-like vehicles), that will ferry visitors around the park. Park B is the middle park of the three and covers 162 000 m2. It contains a number of facilities for a number of activities, the largest being a boating lake with 30-m geyser fountain and a lakeside restaurant. “The geyser will be a major feature of the parks,” says Ben White, associate, Al Khatib Cracknell. Other facilities include a BMX circuit, mini golf, skateboarding park, assault course and adventure playground. There is also another sports zone that will include a fenced-off cricket pitch for competitive matches, an assault course and more play areas for children. The smallest of the three parks, Park C, covers 22 000 m2 and includes a paved area for general purpose events and functions. It has a permanent stage, space for large tents and is fully floodlit. “Lighting is an important element of the whole park because most people will use the park at night,” says White. “The whole park really comes to life at night,” he adds. The 4.5 km-long aluminium fence that runs around the boundary and the park’s 2300 parking spaces, were completed as part of an earlier contract. The majority of the works involved land filling, and in total, some 800 000 m3 of earth was used. “A lot of fill material had to be imported, and in the first four to five months of the project the majority of the works were earthmoving,” says White. Once the levels were resolved, excavation for the various services that run through the park could begin, like drainage, power and water. A sub surface drainage system was needed because the of the high water table in the area. Construction of the parks began in August 2003 with Al Khatib Cracknell as lead consultants, WS Atkins as architecture and MEP consultants, ECC as the main contractor. Orient is the landscaping contractor.||**||

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