Envisioned to enrich lives, Al Nayhan Park represents a symphony of urban regeneration, vibrant experiences and inclusive play. Nestled within the rapidly urbanizing Al Nahyan district of Abu Dhabi city, the site of a former military base, the park has breathed new life into a growing diverse neighborhood, now consisting of both dense high-rise towers and low-density villas. The emergence of the park reflects a timely response to pressing urbanization needs, addressing the lack of recreational spaces and disconnected pedestrian, cycling, and open space networks. As a key component of ICON’s wider district design, Al Nayhan Park embodies an integrated approach. It emphasizes connectivity and artfully blends spaces for both defined and undefined activities, creating a seamless and immersive experience for everyone.

The park now serves as a vibrant social catalyst. Its interactive play zones, tranquil resting spaces, and versatile open lawns have become arenas for social interaction among individuals of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds, fostering a sense of community. It functions as a multipurpose recreational district hub, seamlessly integrated into the city’s cycleway and pedestrian networks, promoting an active lifestyle in the heart of the city.

The park’s spatial design leverages varied topography to craft a dynamic, interactive landscape. From skateable landscapes to an exciting play tower with slides, interactive water play zones, bike pump tracks, multi-use game courts (MUGA), open lawns, and peaceful resting areas, every element has been thoughtfully woven together to foster a sense of continuity and exploration.

The park’s play areas are designed to encourage creativity and versatility, inviting users of all age groups including 2-6 year-olds, 6-12 year-olds, and spirited teenagers, to explore boundless possibilities, limited only by their imaginations. The park features a variety of defined and undefined play zones, promoting a wide spectrum of physical activities such as jumping, running, cycling, crawling, climbing, and sliding. These are thoughtfully interspersed with uniquely styled rest areas for socializing or relaxing – offer something for everyone – whether that’s swinging in a hammock beneath a leafy canopy or finding tranquility in bespoke ICON-designed cocoon seating.

Celebrating the raw materials of childhood play, – sand and water – Al Nayhan Park allows these elements to be endlessly transformable under the hands of children immersed in their imagination. The multifaceted terrain and diverse park elements further encourage experiential learning, subtly introducing lessons on forces of nature like gravity, the fluidity of water, and the power of wind.

With an unwavering commitment to sustainability and quality, Al Nayhan Park showcases its environmental responsibility through the mindful selection of durable, low-maintenance materials and the incorporation of native plants to significantly reduce water usage and promote local biodiversity. The park’s construction was optimized through off-site fabrication of facility blocks and other large structures. These were carefully craned into position and connected to utilities when ready for use, significantly reducing on-site waste and disruption.

The park emerges as a vibrant green oasis in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s built environment. Its design thoughtfully considers the city’s hot climate, leveraging the use of “cool” materials and leafy canopies to provide comforting shade. Innovative structures, coupled with moving fabrics stirred by the wind, and shallow water positively impact the microclimate.

By integrating educational play elements, recycling bins, and solar-powered benches, the park further nurtures environmental consciousness among its visitors. Moreover, sensitive illumination maintains safe areas and thoroughfares after sunset, extending the park’s use well into the night for more senior users taking advantage of the cooler parts of the day.

In essence, Al Nayhan Park, conceived and designed by ICON, represents a successful fusion of social, environmental, and spatial design. It’s more than just a park—it’s a social hub, a learning ground, a sustainable oasis, and an inclusive playground that offers enriching experiences for all age groups, abilities and backgrounds. This project reimagines the potential of urban public spaces, demonstrating how thoughtful design can turn vacant city lots into vibrant community assets, improving the quality of life for everyone who visits.

Note: The main photography of the space close-ups was conducted during the early hours to respect and ensure compliance with privacy regulations in the UAE.

Designed by ICON.

Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Type: Public Park

Designed: 2019

Built: 2020

Area: 7,600 sq.m

Photo Credits: Dominik Wolf Photography, Leipzig, Germany.


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