At WAHO’s core is a commitment to creating considered and emotive landscapes with a particular focus on public spaces and environments of historical and cultural significance. WAHO strives to create spaces that enhance the social fabric of communities, encouraging and enabling our team whilst championing our client’s vision with passion and integrity.
A clear and logical understanding of the site’s historical influences new and old act as the basis for the landscape proposal while a willingness to constantly challenge and validate the design helps create an open space that is tested and true to the sites context. Preliminary stages of investigation into both tangible and intangible heritage within the site help inform the design to create spaces that are both desirable and meaningful.
We believe that landscape is a platform where the natural environment and community partner together in artful balance. As we create spaces, we seek to provide a context for vibrant social interaction and identity as well as connection to the landscape. Fundamental to the delivery of the landscape design is the close and collaborative relationship with the client, wider consultant team and contractor. This is the essence of a true design partnership between the environment, the community and the client.
Established in 2009 we have built up a team that is made up of landscape architects, irrigation engineers, render specialists and horticulturalists from all over the world. Our project locations span the Middle East, India and Africa, however irrespective of location WAHO strives to uncover the special sense of a place and incorporates that quality into an outdoor experience that contributes to the project’s vision; ultimately enhancing the lives of the people who work, play and live in the landscapes we create.
Project typologies include education, hospitality and commercial but our specialist focus is public open spaces and landscapes of cultural and historical importance, specific projects include memorials, urban regeneration, historic restoration and low water use endemic landscapes.
This project is made up of a visitor centre for the historically significant Mleiha Tomb and an open heritage park that respects the desert context of the site. The Tomb is dated from the Iron Age and recognised internationally as a site of historical importance and is currently shortlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage site. As part of Sharjah Municipalities drive to celebrate local heritage the site is being developed as a focal point to the Mleiha area that has a number of significant tangible and intangible heritage elements.
The primary objective of the landscape design is to reintroduce the endemic desert landscape and create an exterior space that unifies the visitor centre and the tomb. The Tomb is set down 850mm below the visitor centre which provided the opportunity for a series of terraces and an integrated ramp. The broad gradual ramp wraps around the tomb and provides the visitor with a series of opportunities to view the external and internal details of the tomb, the ramp terminates at an aperture in the Tomb wall that provides a small view into the internal workings of the Tomb.
The surrounding landscape parkland is designed to be low water use and reflect the desert setting, self-bounding stabilized berms provide opportunities for planting and respect the flow and dynamism of the surrounding dunes, selected native Ghaf trees have been introduced to provide shaded seating areas at key locations along the entry path. All paths are made of in-situ concrete with textures and finishes that complement and respect the fluidity of the sand and sandstone outcrops in the area.
The Al Fahidi area adjacent to Dubai Creek is one of the oldest permanent settlements in Dubai, currently made up of residential and commercial buildings, spice stalls, bazars and interconnected with a series of pedestrian and vehicular access routes. In the heart of this area there are three redundant sites. Dubai municipality requested the redesign of this area to develop these sites with a view to revitalizing the spaces, adding to the sites rich cultural and historical influence and developing a sense of community and pride of place.
The concept design approach looks to create a seamless and interconnected series of spaces that celebrate both tangible and intangible heritage of the area, this is being achieved with the introduction of performance spaces, civic squares, interactive towers and water feature networks.
The central water feature celebrates the historical falage irrigation networks found throughout agricultural sites in the region. This water feature is supplied by air conditioning grey water associated with the adjacent apartments. The start or source of the water feature is the highest point on site, from here it branches off and feeds by gravity to the two main civic spaces, at certain times of day when Air Conditioning is most active the water levels increase and create a variation in usable space base on the water coverage.
Interactive towers act as place markers to the three main open spaces and are at a height to overlook the roofs to the city beyond. The towers are inspired by the traditional wind towers of the region and capture cool air above and funnel down to the streets and laneways below. Interactive lighting and information boards add interest and dynamism to the civic plazas at night, all of which are proposed to be solar powered.
Located on the Eastern Coast of the United Arab Emirates, the Kelba Quarry site is 15km inland and is set amongst the jagged and majestic Al Hajar mountain range. The Site is located within a natural valley with steep rocky hills and cliffs to all sides. The quarry is no longer functional and the local municipality wishes to make use of the interesting site as a publicly accessible park and outdoor pursuits center for local schools along with tourism and hospitality offerings. The main lake is the center piece of the site and the focal point for all visitors. The main lake is formed out of the quarry and creates an organic shape sculptured around the excavated contours. The Community building is located to the top of the terraces overlooking the lake; both the terraces and the buildings would be contemporary and angular referencing the sharp and angular shapes of the quarry.
The Falaj Park is the main open parkland to the overall site. The main open space is 3,500m2 of open lawn that stretches from the upper collection lake down to the lower main lake. Features include a mountain bike track, falaj water way, a raised boardwalk through endemic UAE planting and an open play area for families. To the South Western side of the site there is a significant cliff with spectacular views over the site and down to the coast below. There is an opportunity to introduce a lookout that takes advantage of the location while also acting as an educational tool for visitors. As a reference to the previous history of the site the crane would form a central feature for visitors to use. The crane would operate like a ride taking people to an elevated location to view the site from above.
The materiality of both the landscape and the built structures is design to reflect and complement the context of the site within the redundant quarry. Materials include naturally weathered metals such as Corten Steel that will change and weather with time and paving that references the stones found in the region. Trees, Palms, Shrubs and Groundcovers have all been selected to complement the site location and address the limited water supply for the area. The majority of plants selected are endemic to the region or adaptive and help strength the sense of place for the overall development.
The WAHO Thane Public park is located in an area of growth for the city of Mumbai. The site had a large number of existing trees that the client wanted to clear to create a large open traditional park space. The other restrictions were the need to be low maintenance, hard wearing and low budget. We approached the design by listening to the client’s aspirations and restrictions. We convinced them that all the existing trees should remain and viewed as an asset to the site. The trees then formed the design basis for the landscape intervention, part of the brief we formed internally was to not remove a single tree. Another part of our internal brief was use only locally sourced materials.
The landscape intervention also recognises Mumbai is a densely populated city with not enough easily accessible open public space. Because of this the landscape needed to cater to many different people. The landscape responds to this diverse social need by providing many equally diverse amenities set within a green shaded park setting. Through spending many hours on site we identified areas within the trees where we could situate the amenities. The landscape began to interact playfully with the trees forming the identity of the intervention. Keeping within these fluid lines, we have designated multiple social spaces. A sunken amphitheatre that functions as informal seating as well as a performance space. An outdoor games zone with chess and carom. Exercise stations and spaces for yoga and meditation. The centre of the site has an elevated walkway weaving through the trees allowing for a different experience. It also forms part of the children’s play zone through connecting slides and ladders. Deer sculptures welcome one to the site and represent a native species still found in the outskirts of Mumbai.
The WAHO Unitree Urban Space is located in the city of Pune in the state of Maharashtra, India. The climate is hot and dry in summer and then wet and humid during monsoon. The site is a commercial building with offices and retail at the ground floor. The landscape brief was to create an urban plaza surrounding the building that is pedestrian orientated. It needed to provide a break out space for the people in the office tower, as well as support the retail cafes and shops at the ground level.
The landscape intervention uses locally sourced (within India) materials to from an urban experience that is softened and cooled through the use of lush planting. To help with this we have retained all the existing trees outside the building footprint. We have a stepped waterbody that allows for the water level to raised or lowered to create different forms and differing experiences at different times of the day. We have shaded seating areas below the existing trees. Taxi stands are design to define pick up and drop off zones while also providing shade and shelter. Green walls to screen neighbouring walls and in the lobby spaces to help create a healthy work environment.