A Garden of Intelligence – Hakkasan Terrace, Dubai
By Steven Velegrinis, Urban Design Practice Leader, Woods Bagot
The Chinese culture has a long history of creating gardens for pleasure and learning. The Garden of Intelligence for example was a zoological garden created by the Chinese emperor Wen Wang circa 1000 BC. It is recorded that scholars would sit in this garden and discuss questions such as whether or not fish had desires.
Recently Woods Bagot and Gilles & Boissier have collaborated on the design of the new Dubai edition of the Michelin-starred Hakkasan restaurant at the Emirates Towers. The Restaurant included a large outdoor garden terrace which has evolved as a highlight of the Restaurant. The restaurant opened on 17th November this year and the Garden has already proven popular with the patrons.
The 860 square metre garden was seen as an extension of the exotic Chinese theming of the interiors made relevant to Arabic design sensibilities. The design team saw that both traditional Chinese and Arabic design share certain elements such as screens and latticework/mashrabiya. In the context of Dubai we interpreted this as more of a modern international interpretation of eastern Chinese design. G&B and Woods Bagot have acknowledged this in the delivery of the project.
The basic principles of traditional Chinese Garden design were reflected in our design of the Hakkasan Terrace and this included:
• Designing complete and rich landscapes using 'borrowed' scenery
• Gardens divided into numerous Small Gardens
• Filtering and Unfolding of the Landscape
• The Mirror and Mirroring with water
• Entrance into a Separate Reality (ie Moon Gates)
• Tao, Feng Shui & the Source of life
In broad terms one enters through a gateway that leads to a large reflecting pool where people cross over a mirror threshold of water with a Conocarpus hedge on one side and vertical green wall on the other. After arriving at the Restaurant Entrance visitors to the Terrace are led along a covered walkway to a central corridor terminated by a water wall framed by three mature Ficus nitida trees. Along the corridor four outdoor pavilions divide the garden into discrete smaller ‘outdoor rooms’ providing for intimate dining experiences.
The realisation of these principles was particularly challenging given the climate and highly urbanised conditions of the site at the base of the Emirates Towers. This required creating a sense of a serene garden when enclosed between a multi-storey car park and an external wall of the Boulevarde Mall. Fortunately the site was largely north facing and as such was shaded by the development for most of the day.
Fortunately for the design team the client was open to innovative and new ideas such as Green walls resulting in the introduction of a 30 metre long 3.6 metre high green wall.
Procurement also involved working closely with the Contractor to obtain mature plant materials to be planted on site as early as possible. This included two 5 metre high Delonix Regia, seven 3.5m high Ficus nitida and numerous two metre high Conocarpus trees suitable for pruning into a hedge.
The green wall is the first and largest outdoor green wall in Dubai and utilises a simple mix of planting to provide a uniform rich green wall.
The design and construction periods were conducted over a total of five months. Given the extensive constraints with underground services and limited working areas and times, effective cooperation with the contractor was essential. In this regard we worked with Citiscape who were responsible for delivery of the soft landscape, water features, irrigation system and green wall. Looking at the final result the design and construction teams should be congratulated on the finished product. We anticipate that with a year’s growing time the effect should be even better.
For now we encourage you to visit the restaurant, enjoy the excellent cuisine in the Garden and ponder philosophical questions in this Garden of Intelligence.
Woods Bagot – Executive Architect & Landscape Architecture
Gilles & Boissier – Concept Architect & Interior Designers
Firefly – Lighting Design
Structures – Hyder
MEP – Red Engineering
Fire & Safety - Design Confidence
Acoustics - WSP
Project Manager - Arcadis
Main Contractor - Decovision
Landscape Contractor – Citiscape