Dubai’s most famous street encircles the Burj Khalifa tower in a 3km arc. With the creation of a major new global city came the need to create a Downtown District for Emirates to take pride in, for tourists to cross off their bucket-lists & for the world to recognise as a global centre. The 73m wide Boulevard links the iconic tower, Dubai Mall & other prominent visitor attractions, & residential, commercial & retail developments with an extensive pedestrian esplanade; together with a dramatic lakeside promenade it provides a civic focus for Dubai’s capital city.
The design challenge was to create a world-class boulevard with the same recognition as the Ramblas & Champs Elysee, with activated public realm featuring high-end retail, art & theatre.
Defined by feature paving & aligned with gaps between the buildings, the Boulevard intersections delight onlookers with framed Burj Khalifa views. Themed details such as ramped steps, artwork, stone faceting & water jets celebrate these moments, encouraging socialising & cafe culture.
Solidifying the area’s identity & referencing UAE culture, patternation was developed through optioneering. Created for expression in the paving, tree pits, sculptural settings, ramps & venting details, the pattern was proliferated through all public realm elements so that collaboration on street furniture, kiosks, wayfinding & lighting reflected & strengthened the sense of place.
The Boulevard is trisected, reflecting neighbouring character areas, enticing visitors to explore. With open views of the Mall & Burj Khalifa, the Arrival Area is characterised by low planting punctuated by Delonix regia & its bursts of red flowers. Clear stemmed Pheonix dactylifera palms define the Urban Zone whilst both trees line avenues in the Garden Gateway, underplanted with ample shrubs & groundcovers.
Trees, palms & plants sourced at mature size gave immediate shade. To accommodate for growth, 1.8m wide tree pits were installed. 16 years on, this foresight is providing year-round use with cooling established avenues, demonstrating the importance of urban greening.
With the advent of personal electric transport and the birth of social media, the way we interact with cities, & art interfaces with landscape has changed irrevocably; however the feel of the Boulevard has remained true to the original aesthetic largely due to the success of the guidelines & design.