Al Ain Masterplan

I worked on this masterplan development while working at Dyer Architects in London.

Al Ain (meaning literally "The Spring"), also known as the Garden City due to its greenery, is the second largest city in the Abu Dhabi Emirate. It is famous for its oasis and its underground irrigation system which brings water from boreholes to water farms and palm trees. The dry desert air makes it a welcome retreat from the coastal humidity of the larger cities. Many Emirati nationals in Abu Dhabi have holiday houses in Al Ain. It is a popular weekend destination for families from the capital and it is rapidly developing as an important tourist destination.

The masterplan was for the creation of a massive mixed-use development that would contain shops, restaurants, cinemas, extensive entertainment facilities and a large residential component. The main attraction would be an artificial inland sea. The entire complex is covered in a vast ETFE biodome structure. This creates an enclosed space where the environmental can be passively controlled, providing shelter from the desert climate.

ETFE is a hi-tech lightweight transparent material developed by the aerospace industry which is used in the shape of pneumatic cushions inflated for rigidity. These cushions are supported by a two layered lattice structure of inter-connecting domes. The top of the domes have large openings that are sealed by helium-filled balloons. The balloons are tethered to the domes and on calm evenings can be raised to create air circulation and release heat generated during the day.

Other members of the team included: Cesar Leal, Robert Starnes and Fei Yang. Many consultants were involved too, including engineers and sustainability experts.
We did all the 3d modelling, graphics creation and panel design in-house. A fly-through animation and the rendering of selected images were outsourced to a company in China.

Design © copyright Dyer Architects