Al Fay Park by SLA

Al Fay Park

With its innovative biodiversity, microclimate and social activities, Al Fay Park is a paradigm shift in how to design and implement nature in the dense megacities of the Middle East. The park is designed by Danish nature-design stars SLA. A new kind of urban nature park has seen the light of day in Abu Dhabi. Gone are the water-consuming and soulless ‘Las Vegas landscapes’ of the past.

Al Fay Park – a new 27,500 m2 public park in downtown Abu Dhabi that signals a new kind of Middle Eastern city development: Driven by inclusive nature rather than iconic buildings. Al Fay Park is designed by Danish nature-based design studio SLA for the client Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport and is a game-changer in how to design and implement city nature in the dense megacities of the Middle East.

The park is the first urban park in UAE that uses biodiversity to enhance the local microclimate as well as the social public realm. The park design is devised through SLA’s inhouse biologists and planting experts’ yearlong research studies of the region’s unique nature and wildlife. A research published in SLA’s own internal plant book covering all the native plant species of the UAE, their optimal growing and living conditions, and how to integrate them into design.

The coolest place in town
As the first biodiversity park in the UAE, Al Fay Park contains more than 2,000 native trees and bushes – including the national Ghaf trees that have been replanted from desert nurseries into the park – all specifically chosen to strengthen biodiversity for both plants and wildlife and to maximize natural cooling throughout the park. The resulting microclimate reduces traffic noise and temperature and creates a distinct forest-like environment.

The specifically designed sloping entrances funnels the cooler southern breeze down into the park while local grasses and bushes reduce sand infiltration. Benefitting from the optimized microclimate, Al Fay Park is buzzling with social activities such as multiple sports facilities, playgrounds, street fitness, climbing walls, minigolf, food trucks and a host of informal outdoor seating areas. Along the edge of the park a winding Forest Track invites visitors to explore sensuous and wild nature experiences amongst the flowers and grasses and under the canopies.

The result is a park with authentic ecosystems and natural habitats for wildlife that also is an open invitation for all to explore nature, interact with each other and relax together in a peaceful, comfortable and serene setting. All in all, Al Fay Park is the Middle East’s first showcase of how to strengthen urban biodiversity while creating a cool, comfortable and unique round-the-clock public realm for all residents and visitors to meet, play and live. Source by SLA.

  • Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Landscape Architect: SLA
  • Collaborators: Parsons (architect of record), iGuzzini (lighting), Barari (contractor)
  • Client: Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport
  • Size: 27,500 sqm
  • Completion: March 2021
  • Photographs: Philip Handforth, Courtesy of SLA

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