‘The Block’ A Sustainable Approach for Public Landscape

desert INK

‘The Block’ stands out as one of the most unique and innovative landscape designs in the Middle East for providing an example of how site-found waste materials can be successfully utilized to create a unique character and function within a public landscape.


This award-winning urban park project was constructed over a seven-month period, providing the primary outdoor recreational space for the Dubai Design District (d3), whilst simultaneously drawing in visitors from outside the community to explore this new urban district.


desert INK seized the opportunity to utilize more than 700 surplus concrete quaystones abandoned at the site during the construction of the adjacent Dubai Water Canal.


This urban park re-purposes countless recycled materials, features many incidental play areas for children to explore, an outdoor gym, sports facilities and food and beverage outlets.


By providing a framework of open spaces including plazas, lawns and an urban beach, The Block is truly defined by the people, events, artwork, activities that then populate the space, often transforming the landscape in ways that were not envisioned by its designers.


The quaystones are a unifying element of the design, being utilized to create a wide range of interactive elements for visitors of all ages and physical abilities from climbing walls to parkour zones and opportunities for play and exercise.


The park has distanced itself from existing urban parks in the city, which typically feature generic tropical planting, open lawns and a predictable sequence of spaces.


One of the most intriguing spaces in the park is ‘The Siq’; a series of narrow winding corridors created by stacking quaystones up to 7 meters high.


Very much like walking through a desert wadi ravine, the space remains substantially shaded and is noticeably cooler, making it ideal for budding rock climbers which populate this zone.


The Block provides a successful case study advocating the incorporation of native materials within landscapes and is set to change the region’s predisposition and mindset that imported materials are superior.


The desert INK team likewise showcase native plant species previously unused in commercial landscapes, such as the vibrant Leptadenia pyrotechnica.


This new palette, coupled with the fact that the re-appropriation of the quaystones saved 21,000 tons of concrete being land filled, make The Block one of the most sustainable landscape installations in the region.

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Project Details:

Location: Dubai, UAE
Completion Date: 2017
Area: 22,500 sqm
Client: Dubai Holding – TECOM Group – Dubai Design District
Architects: desert INK
Photos: courtesy of desert INK

About the Architect

Since 2015, this UAE-based Landscape Architecture studio have created some
of the most exciting new places in the region.
Their commissions are diverse, 
but their approach is consistent, questioning the facts, turning problems on their heads and delighting their clients in the process. They know that every constraint represents an opportunity.

From rooftop pool hangouts and lush private residences, to sustainable eco-hotels, desert parks and urban plazas, desert INK’s regionally responsive view on design is consistently pioneering and environmentally sustainable.

The recently completed urban park, ‘The Block’ in Dubai Design District is a testament to desert INK’s vision to create exciting places which enhance lives, setting out their clear intention to stand out from the crowd.

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