Gardens of the Jameel Art Centre

Dubai, The United Arab Emirates, 2018


The design of Jameel Art Centre' seven gardens is based on the tradition of collecting live plant specimens, or what is sometimes referred to as 'plant hunting'. For centuries, botanical adventurers have explored the world to find exotic plants to bring home, sometimes at great risks. These plants usually ended up in botanical gardens or in the gardens of collectors. Nowadays it is mainly through nurseries that plants travel around the world, and there is generally more awareness for listed and endangered species. The many nurseries visited in search of unusual plants turned this project into a botanical adventure. Research on the desert biome formed the starting point for the plant selection. A biome is defined by a set of compatibilities between living organisms and their particular environment. Desert plants tend to look very different from plants native to other regions. Their extraordinary appearance results from their remarkable adaptation to the desert climate. In the Jameel Art Centre each garden displays plants from a particular desert. In the large entrance garden species belonging to different deserts are combined resulting in a surreal composition. The mineralisation of the gardens consists of pink marble chips and terrazzo. The shapes of the paths are based on paper scraps that emerged during the crafting of sketch models of the courtyards. Working with found forms made it possible to reverse the design process. Instead of designing a logical path from A to B, unexpected spatial conditions resulting from the placement of found shapes in the courtyards were explored.