The Lagoons, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

lagoon01aerMy first mega-project, The Lagoons masterplan covered 540 hectares of mixed use. The international design competition was won by Urbis Hong Kong Limited and I joined the company as Senior Landscape Architect and Project Manager.

Within a few months I had relocated to Dubai to set up the company’s Dubai branch office and was later joined by a growing professional team of designers and project managers.

Adjacent to the site lies the Ras Al Khor wildlife sanctuary; an artificially enhanced, semi-natural habitat; home to migratory flamingos and other Arabian wildlife.

I had the privilege of compiling flora and target fauna species lists, designing geophysical modelling for ecological function, recommending endemic plant species for conservation and writing a working paper with Mr. Sandy Duggie on the unique procurement strategy to be followed.

Our working papers and recommendations were accepted by the developer, Sama Dubai, the Dubai Municipality (Environmental Department), RAMSAR, WWT consultants and endorsed by a UNESCO scientist.

The project had progressed from concept design to tender, with quay walls constructed on the site creating artificial islands that were intended to be flooded with waters from the Dubai Creek… until the recession arrived, resulting in the project being placed on hold.

I sincerely hope that one day this project is fully implemented. The ecological improvements to the reserve’s buffer zone, and introduction of endemic plant species to the commercially available palette for the Gulf coast has potential to greatly enhance the ecological function of the area whilst preserving biodiversity.

The working papers I authored recommended artificial coral reef creation, the creation of Islamic art inspired salt sculptures which would utilise and neuralise the hyper saline impounded Gulf waters, and the creation of a living soil by harvesting and growing various fungi that form a symbiotic relationship with plants, reducing their stress and increasing water and nutrient absorption.