The Dubai terrain evokes a variety of images, but none is more representative than movement – from the Eastern boundary of the sea to the rolling sand dunes of the North, South, and West.And it is among these Western sand dunes that the new campus will emerge from the desert.
The land that occupies and surrounds the site is a composite of semi-desert scrub that lends itself to a variety of shrubs, bushes, and grasses. This natural landscape is not shielded from the intensity of the Sun by any surrounding landmasses, or native vegetation.The site itself has a natural slope away from the adjacent roadways, which serves as a protective edge from roadway pollution and noise.During the summer months, the site will also be exposed to Southeast prevailing winds, which will often create sand storms that will impact the site.
CONCEPT = OASIS
Learning is a continual, ever-changing process that allows all of us to achieve our potential, and evolve.For the University of Dubai, it is this principle that guides the direction of academics, and allows for infinite possibilities of creative and critical intelligence.The foundation of the new campus plan integrates the natural landscape of the desert with the organizational and evolving natures of academic environments. The basic premise allows the vast expanse of the surrounding landscape to penetrate the site, to a point where natural and man-made environments meet.At this point, the architecture emerges from the sand to form the vertical edge the University of Dubai campus.The architecture form spirals into a coherent building structure that is reminiscent of the formation of land and sea, and provides a protective “shell” that captures the central Oasis of Knowledge.The simplicity of the spiral, along with the Golden Mean Rule, parallels the ancient precept that is consistent with the quest for knowledge.Within this protective environment, internal and external spaces are configured to create an impressive learning environment.The use of the spiral also creates a continuum for academic experience to flourish, whereby one activity leads into the next with no beginning, and no end, much like the educational experience.As the University rises from the landscape, the concentric bands of the spiral blend and define the natural and man-made environments.This banding forms a transition from the desert to an area of minimal landscape to vehicular parking and the Entry Courts.The pedestrian experience then moves from a sustainable native landscape to that of the College Portals and into the Gallery, all of which surround a lush, water-filled Oasis in the central plaza of the spiral.
Landscape Design Concept
LANDSCAPE = TRANSITIONAL
The landscape palette of the University of Dubai creates an evolution of treatments that begins in the native desert landform with minimal planting materials.The concept seeks to allow the desert to seamlessly move into the site and create the basic form upon which the University rests.As one moves inward, and toward the University, the landscape becomes more diverse and intensely planted.The outer-ring of vehicular parking has minimal native plantings, which are primarily used as shade for the cars, and to provide relief along the Courts.The circumferential ring road defines the transition between the natural and man-made landscape environments.
Within the ring road, the landscape becomes more diverse, walkways are more intensely shaded, and irrigation is used more readily. The primary pedestrian access points from the parking begin as formal entrance Courts, featuring palm trees and ornamental plantings that are lined along a central sidewalk. As one enters into the academic environment, the landscape becomes more orchestrated, to enhance the Portal, which identifies each respective College along the spine of the spiral.After moving through the Portal, the Gallery becomes the primary link by which all the Colleges are connected, and the Gallery opens out into the Oasis of Knowledge – the central focal point for the entire University campus.
The Oasis landscape includes a careful balance of spaces that respond to microclimates created by the vegetative canopy, and include an understory of planting materials, localized ‘misters’ for hydration, temperature reduction devices, and broad expanses of water.The outer-ring of the Oasis, closest to the Gallery, features a covered pedestrian walkway edged by a 15.00 meter pool of flat water that reflects and defines the intersection between the sky, and academic institution.Just beyond the pool, are large wedges of grass panels that are nestled between a series of pedestrian walkways that create areas for students to gather, study, and socialize throughout the year.The monumental element of the Oasis is defined as a spiraling planting of tall palm trees that form a dark, shaded plaza around a perfectly symmetrical pool of water that is exposed to direct sunlight year-round.The juxtaposition between the dark vegetation and the bright sunlit pool opens a thematic dialog between the quest for knowledge and the attainment of educational goals and aspirations.The plaza area has been designed with adaptable spaces and seating, so that it can be used for a variety of gatherings from small-group meetings to larger classroom assemblies.In addition, the large lawn in front of the beginning of the spiral can be used for student seating, and has the spatial flexibility to accommodate large University events.
ORGANIZATION OF COLLEGES = INTERACTION
The creation and development of the spiral form organizes the Colleges in a concentric manner that offers individuality to each discipline, while maintaining the connection to the University as one entity.The anchor of the spiral begins with the Shared Resources Building, which is the representation of knowledge itself – the acquisition of learning through the interaction of research, development, and sharing of ideas.The momentum of the spiral continues by organizing each College along the spine, whereby each College has a public and private realm.
The private realm for each College is defined by separate pedestrian Courts, and entrance Portals that are accessed from the outer-and-inner parking areas.As one travels from the parking area, the journey begins by individuals selecting a College specific entrance Court that gradually transitions them through the Portal. Once inside the Portal, the public realm for each College is organized along a two-story Gallery space that moves individuals along the interior of the spine and creates connectivity between the Colleges, which allows the social, intellectual, and emotional learning to be achieved through the diverse interaction of disciplines.This interaction is promoted by the design layout that provides a series of amenities from adaptable meeting and working spaces to wireless networks that allow research to be conducted outside a traditional classroom.
The private realm for each College is also accessed from the Gallery, whereby students are brought-back to the entrance Wall and are guided into specific Colleges.Each College features a variety of spaces that are necessary to provide students the highest quality of education from classrooms and adaptable meeting spaces to faculty offices and specialized resources, such as the Trading Floor in The College of Business Management, Accounting and Administration; and a generous, unobtrusive private space for personal meditation and relaxation in the University Community Zone.Each space serves a purpose in achieving intellectual success by connecting each College to the greater University through a life-long journey of learning, which is the symbolic nature of the spiral. The central core of the spiral also serves to unify the University, and each College, by the creation of an interior Oasis, where a lush garden alternates with intricate pedestrian walkways amongst an infinite number of gathering spaces.This Oasis is the epitome of knowledge as it fosters interaction amongst individuals within the greater University – it becomes the Oasis of Knowledge.
ACCESS/CIRCULATION = TRANSITION
The circulation within the University of Dubai is purely pedestrian, but the access to the University will be vehicular.There are three-major roadways that connect the University campus to modern Dubai.When vehicles reach the site, they will drive through a Sculptural Gate that defines the primary entrance to the University.Once inside the Gate, a processional road will move the cars to a drop-off zone for the Administration Building, and then finally to a series of parking areas that are nestled within the outer-and-inner rings of the spiral.The parking areas, which are unobtrusive and in close proximity to the University buildings, are both shaded by the envelope of the spiral roof, and by the natural vegetation of the landscape.Moving from the parking areas to the University setting is achieved by using one of the many pedestrian walkways that provide access to the pedestrian Courts and entrance Portals.These Portals serve as the individualized points of access for each College, and to the University as a whole.
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