With its recently launched Aljada megaproject in Sharjah, designed by Woods Bagot, Arada aims to target extreme sports enthusiasts, as well as encourage kids and university students to adopt a more active lifestyle.
Speaking to ConstructionWeekOnline, Ibrahim Al Nemeh, design director of the UAE-based developer, said that the $6.5bn (AED24bn) development will feature spaces catering to different extreme sports activities like skateboarding and parkour.
“Those are in addition to the typical football, tennis, basketball, and swimming facilities,” he said.
“The whole idea is to create an entertainment district focussing on kids and families. There’s going to be a huge kids’ discovery centre, as well as cultural and art components, in addition to cinemas, theatres, and public facilities like libraries and clinics.”
All of these will be part of the project’s entertainment and leisure precinct, the Central Hub, he revealed.
The Central Hub, he noted, will be designed to “accommodate the young generation of Sharjah”, taking into account that the Aljada plot is adjacent to the emirate’s University City.
Arada, according to Al Nemeh, also recognises that extreme sports activities parkour like BMX, parkour, and skateboarding are enjoying growing popularity in the country.
He said: “They have their crowd, which is growing. So Aljada wants to accommodate those individuals and to promote different activities, which at the end of the day will improve the wellbeing of the people living on the site and in the area.”
He further noted that the project, designed with the climate of the country in mind, will feature plenty of green spaces and design elements that will ensure optimum outdoor comfort.
“One of the things we did, design-wise, to promote outdoor comfort, is align the buildings to maximise self-shading,” he said.
“We will also keep the minimum distance between structures to 15m. This will allow better wind channeling. So when you have self-shading and wind channeling, the outdoor thermal comfort is optimum and it encourages people to use [outdoor facilities] all year round,” Al Nemeh added.
Talking about the challenges that Arada faced while developing the design of Aljada, he said: “One of the main challenges we faced […] was that we were working with a blank urban canvas.
“Usually when developing a master plan for an already established urban fabric, the existing elements may appear as a constraint. However, these constraints limit the design possibilities and play a big part in shaping the design outcome.”
He continued: “[The] Aljada site presented itself with endless possibilities, which created a challenge in figuring out the optimum design solution. [So], we tried to rationalise our design approach by focusing on two main factors.
“One, to develop an urban fabric that addresses 21st century urban issues found in major cities, such as traffic congestion, accessibility, the establishment of self-sufficient mixed-use neighbourhoods, and the quality of the urban environment in general, to name a few.
“Second, by paying homage to Sharjah’s architectural and urban history by reintroducing successful traditional urban typologies like sikkas, the barahat (courtyard), and the souq, in a modern and contemporary manner,” he added.