The newly landscaped Emirates Golf Club made its public debut during last month’s Dubai Desert Classic 2011, the new-look clubhouse and landscaped facade brings to the championship course a contemporary transformation that befits its status as one of the world’s most prestigious golfing destinations.
Murdoch Wickham, a UK-based Landscape Architecture firm collaborated with Brewer Smith Brewer Gulf (BSBG) who were the original architects of the Emirates Golf Club to modernise the 23-year-old clubhouse and surrounding landscape, while retaining its iconic Bedouin-inspired exterior structure.
BSBG was responsible for the entire masterplanning, new exterior and interior concept designs as well as the landscaping of the club.
“Our design objective in updating the internal and external spaces has really been to give clarity of flow as you move through and around the site. This stands in contrast to the darker, more enclosed spaces of the earlier design. Indoor and outdoor spaces have also been reoriented to maximise the building’s footprint while introducing more natural light into the internal areas and generally improving the way people interact with the club’s amenities,” explained Alistair McMillan, Managing Partner of BSBG.
A new louvered canopy to the rear of the building extends the downstairs terrace and provides more communal entertainment options. In addition to its functional shading purpose, the new structure extends the line of sight beyond the putting green to the elevated golf course and invokes a feeling of spaciousness into the sunken ground floor area. Importantly, all amenities now feel a part of the overall clubhouse identity rather than standalone features, with new exterior finishes and landscaping provide a definitive route to the pool and fitness club.
With three golf courses, including the championship-level Majilis Course, the Clubhouse at Emirates Golf Club has some of the most picturesque and luscious green surrounds in Dubai. The landscape design concept for the renovations to the Clubhouse picks up where the surrounding landscaping of the golf courses ends. The new design addresses the aesthetic creation of a relationship between the striking architectural form of the Clubhouse, reminiscent of Bedouin tents, and its soft landscaped surrounds, thereby providing a context for the building, and; secondly, by combining the aesthetic and functional aspects of landscaping to enhance the sense of arrival and entrance to the various destinations in the Clubhouse, such as the Main Lobby and the Health Club areas (Swimming Pool, Gym / Spa and Squash courts) and by facilitating and formalizing movement to link the various existing and new facilities of the Clubhouse.
In detail, these aims were achieved by the following design features:
- The original pebble-garden style landscape feature at the base of the entrance to the Clubhouse, that appeared static and “heavy” and partially obstructed the view of the Clubhouse from the member car-park and the main driveway leading up to the Clubhouse, was replaced with a terraced water-feature and an open metal balustrade, that act as a “light” foreground to the Clubhouse and create a sense of arrival at the Clubhouse. The water fountain also provides an active playfulness, in addition to the soothing sound of flowing water, which greets visitors.
- The driveway and drop-off area adjacent to the main entrance are finished in textured coloured stone pavers set out in geometric patterns that complement the sweeping curve pattern of the internal floor finishes of the Main Lobby and are, in fact, a continuation of the internal floor design. By complementing the colour scheme and maintaining the continuity, a palpable sense of connection between the outside and inside of the building is created.
Entrance to the Health Club / Swimming Pool
- To the right of the main entrance to the Clubhouse, a formal pathway created by low planters leads visitors to the Health club facilities, and allows Sports Members of the club to head directly to their desired destination without having to enter the Clubhouse. This is a vast improvement on the original landscaping layout where members had to first enter the Clubhouse and then, stepping out, walk along a narrow pathway immediately adjacent to the building façade.
- While the existing swimming pool has been retained with only maintenance work being carried out, the pool deck has been completely refurbished with new paving and the introduction of soft landscaping to introduce more intimate seating areas, as well as softened and shaded areas for sub-bathing.
Spike Bar Terrace
- The original terrace at the lower ground floor level, was enclosed by a half-height, stone-clad retaining wall, that provided a subterranean feel to the terrace and created a sense of enclosure, that was uncharacteristic for this external area and did not exploit all the natural features of the space. It also acted as a barrier between the putting green adjacent to the terrace and the terrace itself, disconnecting the golfing activities from the hospitality functions of the club. In the new design, the retaining wall has been removed and replaced with wide stone steps and the terrace has been extended outward in response to the extended lower ground floor internal areas. This extension is laid out in a floral pattern of “three petals”, that are a softened version of the hexagonal geometry of the Clubhouse. This pattern was also selected as it minimized the impact that the extended terrace has had on the surface area of the adjacent practice green, which is very busy during local and international tournaments.