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Following DIFC’s announcement of its major new development, the Gate Avenue at DIFC, the RMJM design team reflect on their approach to this much-anticipated project.
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is the financial hub for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, providing a world-class platform connecting the region’s markets with the economies of Europe, Asia and the Americas. The Centre offers all the elements found in the world’s most successful financial industry ecosystems, including an independent regulator, an independent judicial system with a common-law framework, a global financial exchange, inspiring architecture, powerful, enabling support services and a vibrant business community. The infrastructure within the district features ultra-modern office space, retail outlets, cafes and restaurants, art galleries, residential apartments, public green areas and hotels. RMJM were appointed as the architects and lead consultant for the Gate Precinct buildings, completed in 2008, which together with the Gate Building form the core of DIFC.
The Gate Avenue at DIFC, an 880m long walkway, will provide a seamless connectivity with all the building podiums within the district, from the Gate Building in the North to the primarily residential district in the South, and will encompass 660,000 sq ft of Built up Area. RMJM were assigned in early 2015 to work with the DIFC to develop the Gate Avenue at DIFC into a unique cultural experience in the region and to enhance the resident and visitor experience through vibrant retail and sophisticated dining, all connected by an open-air promenade and relaxed parkland environment.
Within the Gate Avenue at DIFC project, the team has incorporated a series of miniature Gates, which reference the iconic Gate Building. Symbolically these Gates will extend the DIFC marque throughout the estate, functionally they will link the indoor retail mix with the Promenade Level, and physically they will integrate the inner and outer environments through vertical circulation and visual connectivity.
RMJM has created a varied retail environment which transitions through three integrated zones connected by the Promenade Level. The North Zone, located adjacent to the Gate Building, will serve as a meeting point for business professionals, featuring luxury and exclusive retail outlets. In the Central Zone, with a convenient connection to the DIFC metro, the retail offering will be focused on high-street brands with a wide range of indoor and al fresco restaurants. At the primarily residential South Zone, the two level retail mix along with the different facilities will be designed to create a family friendly community experience. The outdoor Promenade Level with the unique planting, shading structures and kiosks, will also provide an elegant and engaging environment for people to enjoy day and night.
Located towards the southern end of the Gate Avenue at DIFC, an emblematic mosque will complete the sequence of buildings that stand on the Promenade Level. DIFC’s vision was for RMJM to create a new vernacular for mosque design in the UAE, a beacon of modern Islamic design that makes reference to tradition by reinterpreting the essence of traditional mosque design in the contemporary context: in essence “to create a simple exterior and a fabulous interior”. The mosque will have a simple structure enveloped by a screen with graduated perforations allowing light to bathe the interior space which is revealed when approaching from the outside. The materials and products used in the design will express the qualities of integrity, durability and humility.
Gate Avenue at DIFC will also host cultural events, live performances and festivals with the gates providing a backdrop for digital projections. The development will bring together a diverse, multicultural community, as well as leading retail brands, culinary concepts and art events. Gate Avenue at DIFC will deliver significant added value to the DIFC community and the RMJM design team fully expect it to fulfill its objective of establishing the area as a premium lifestyle destination in Dubai.
Images courtesy of Dubai International Financial Centre