Wednesday, 7 April 2010
Amusement Park concept designs for two sites in Saudi Arabia for a local real estate developer. Developed in co-operation with interior designers DWP's Bahrain office, the proposed concepts are for prestigious and prominent sites set along water front locations in Jeddah and Dammam. The aim was to create unique entertainment and activity centres, set in landscaped surrounding providing rich and varied experiences for the wellbeing and stimulus of young people and the families. The parks contain a central orientation point, visitor centre, retail and restaurants as well as communal facilities. Entertainment and activity zones interconnect and radiate out from the centre containing ice-skating, cinemas, go-karting, virtual games and rides together with an indoor water sports centre combined with outdoor swimming pools.
We have drawn inspiration from the local habitat and in particular the flora and fauna of the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf coasts and the immediate adjacency of the water itself. We have also drawn upon the existing context of the site to suggest and prompt a design response that is woven into the overall concept for each individual site. In considering the framework for the master plan, from which all the design development flows, we have chosen a geometric progression that spreads and repeats itself across the site to link both the plan form and massing of the buildings into a unified whole. The starting point is the way seeds are arranged in a sunflower or daisy. The pattern of intersecting parabolic spirals is the result of a natural growth process where new, smaller seeds emerge from a centre and displace larger and older ones. It is also the most efficient and space saving way of packing seeds in the head of the flower. ‘Phyllotaxis’ or growth processes with similar two or three dimensional spiral patterns can be found in many thousands of varieties of plants: for example in the arrangement of leaves on a stem, in cacti, in Aloe Vera leaves and in pine cones to name but a few. Phyllotaxis or Fermat spirals generated by a natural growth processes can also be found in the growth process of the Date Palm which features on the Saudi coat of arms. Similar physical and mathematical principles underlying growth in nature can be found in the famous spiral of the nautilus shell, which can also be used to explain the Golden Section. Fibonacci numbers are found in the concentric circles of the seeds in the sunflower. From the geometric rules suggested by the above principles we have created an intricate Fermat spiral geometry formed from intersecting parabolic spirals (which we refer to as ‘the orchid’) that are mapped over the sites. One benefit of this geometric pattern is that it lends itself to being developed flexibly, in many ways without loosing the sense of the inherent geometry. The orchid petals radiate from the centre creating, on a large scale, the districts and zones and with further subdivision within the geometry, the buildings, pedestrian routes and external spaces at a more detailed scale. Each option employing ‘the orchid’ approach has this as the unifying element underlying the masterplan structure. Petals rotate and spread across the site form separate buildings to edges and appear as shaded roofs on some of the high rise buildings. We have also drawn inspiration from the wildlife prevalent along the coastal edges and have also observed the numerous incidents of major sculptures in the public realm along the major freeways and corniches of Saudi Arabian cities. We have drawn these ideas together to propose one very large sculpture/building housing facilities for visitors and creating a high level viewing platform from which the radiating geometry of the masterplan and buildings can be seen as a unified whole.
Common to all the options is the concept for a separate large scale sculpture which would act both as a branding mechanism to identify the theme parks wherever they are located in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and provide an additional experience for the visitor – an observation platform high above the Theme park itself. In this instant we have taken inspiration from an indigenous water bird, the Western Reef Heron, to create a focal point to each of the theme parks on the waters edge. The heron occurs mainly on the coasts along the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf as well as in tropical West Africa and to the east in India. The Western Reef Heron's breeding habitat is coastal wetlands. They nest in colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs, which alludes to the creation of an observation platform in a tower structure.