The Suspended Gardens of Dammam
The Al-Shati strip mall has been conceived as an urban block that is permeable to its context. In order to maximize shop frontage and optimize accessibility to the site, the project was fragmented into an L-shaped block and a rectangular podium “island”. The L block consisting of ground floor plus two levels provides a buffer from the neighbor to the south and the residential area to the west while the “island” block consisting of a ground floor occupies the strategic north-east corner of the site.
an internal street between both volumes provides a “souk”-like experience giving shops frontage as well as potential terraces for seating. Taking advantage of this configuration the roof of the podium acts as an elevated garden linked by bridges to the rest of the volumes. This garden is allocated as terraces for the restaurants below, while simultaneously serving as a green backdrop open to the sea view for the shops on the first and second levels of the L-block.
The first and second floor, articulated within the same spirit, are laid out to profit from ample terraces and plantation. The result is a perception of green extending all the way from the ground to the second floor hence reinforcing the image of suspended gardens.
Accessibility: to maximize the footprint of the mall we have restricted the required parking to the additional land adjacent to the highway whereby vehicles enter on the east and exit on the north.
the internal souk/courtyard creates a pedestrian loop from the east to the street on the north where a drop-off has been implemented facing the mosque. A small covered passage on the west connects the central souk of the mall to the residential street behind it.
Materiality: the mall is a fairly simple concrete structure on a rectangular grid . the elevations are clad in glass curtain walls while parapets, walls and planters are covered with alternating hollow core aluminum tubes with a brass-color finish. These alternating aluminum tubes give a “precious” golden feel to the project while reducing the visual impact of the volumes.