The breathtaking Oman Botanic Garden was revealed to the world on 14.11.17 by Arup, Grimshaw and Haley Sharpe Design (hsd), who have collaboratively delivered the engineering, landscaping, architecture and interpretative designs. Covering over 420 hectares, Oman Botanic Garden will be the largest within the Arabian Peninsula and in the world.
With guidance from His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said the garden will celebrate and conserve the country’s botanic diversity which will be enjoyed by the people of Oman for generations to come. Two stunningly elegant biomes will contain a significant number of species. A high number of these are endemic and endangered. Located 35 km from Muscat, in the foothills of the Al Hajar Mountains, the Oman Botanic Garden will be home to a visitor centre as well as education and research facilities.
The site chosen for the project is one of only a few locations in the world where the ancient sea bed is still visible after tectonic activity elevated the bed to a 100m above sea level. Arup and Grimshaw have worked with the existing natural ridges and ravines that traverse the site to design the buildings and walkways, within the spectacular undulating land.
Visitors will experience the entire flora of the Sultanate of Oman in just a few hours. The eight defined habitats of the country are sensitively arranged at the centre of the site, gracefully bounded by Jebel Sufra and the majestic Qurn Mubarak. Visitors will travel around the wadis, mountains and deserts of Oman within an immersive landscaped setting displaying only native species, many of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Two of the more sensitive habitats are enclosed within separate biomes to mimic the natural temperature and humidity of the unique external environments. The Northern Biome is a sinuous glass enclosure which re-creates the varied habitats of the Northern Mountains, including their ancient terraces. The Southern Biome and its shimmering undulating glass form will enclose the rich and varied habitats found in the Dhofar region, where visitors will be immersed in a moist and green forest ‘Khareef’ setting.
Oman Botanic Garden delicately balances the diverse plant environments with visitor comfort, creating a design that uses passive and active shading, optimises natural daylight, cooling and efficient plant irrigation. Building form, shape and materials have been considered and selected in response to atmospheric conditions and the natural topography. Orientation of the sunlight, weather patterns and human behaviour have informed the design of visitor flow through the site.
The buildings, along with the garden site, have been designed to achieve the globally recognised sustainable standard, LEED Platinum. With water such a precious resource, particularly in the region, Arup has developed a strategy for the irrigation and water features. Water is sourced sustainably and not a single drop is wasted.
Grimshaw Partner, Keith Brewis said, “The Oman Botanic Garden is an astonishing project with many layers of interwoven cultural and environmental significance. Its scale and diversity is truly world-leading, and we are honoured to work as the architects for a project that has the conservation of bio-diversity as a core design driver.”
Ed Clarke, Associate Director and Project Manager commented, “At Arup we have enjoyed the many unique challenges presented by the Oman Botanic Garden; from designing natural and authentic landscapes to recreating the cool mists of the Khareef. More than 700 of our multi-disciplinary engineers and specialist designers were engaged to explore and find solutions that would befit such an ambitious and creative brief. The Oman Botanic Garden must surely be one of the most marvellous projects in the world.”
Alisdair Hinshelwood, Designer and Director at hsd, summed up, “The Oman Botanic Garden project set itself and the entire design team unique technical and cultural objectives, and aspirations. hsd has relished working on a project where the botanical, landscape and cultural heritage of Oman is being expressed through the detailed scientific research, technical design and sheer creative enthusiasm of the entire team, client and design alike.”
Working for the Diwan of Royal Court, Arup, Grimshaw and Interpretative Designers hsd, have provided full multi-disciplinary services from master planning through to construction design. The project is due to start on site imminently.