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Competition: Abu Dhabi Flamingo Tower

An open international contest is being held for a landmark new $200,000 USD observation tower and boardwalk at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in Abu Dhabi, UAE (Deadline: 13 June)

The competition, organised by Bee Breeders in collaboration with Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, seeks ‘cost-effective, environmentally responsible and energy efficient’ proposals for a new 400m² viewing platform and boardwalk at the park which is home to more than 4,000 flamingos.

The project aims to upgrade visitor facilities at the 5km² nature reserve which is located around 30 kilometres south east of central Abu Dhabi and opened to the public five years ago. Along with breeding flamingos, the reserve is also home to large numbers of rare birds, invertebrates, plants, reptiles and mammals.

Contest site at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Contest site at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Contest site at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in Abu Dhabi, UAE

According to the brief: ‘Al Wathba is the first established protected area of its kind in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and the first to be declared as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention on wetlands.

‘As the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi has expressed an interest in the construction of this tower, designs will need to be both in keeping with the look and purpose of the national park, while having the potential to become an iconic landmark in its own right.’

The Al Wathba Wetland Reserve was created in 1998 on the mainland Arabian peninsula a short distance east of east of Abu Dhabi island. The large 5km2 nature park features a mix of wetlands, salt flats and fossilized sand dunes.

The area – which currently has limited visitor facilities – is thought to be one of the only places in UAE where flamingos regularly breed and recently saw 230 chicks hatching that had been parented by flamingos nesting at the reserve.

Contest site at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Contest site at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Contest site at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in Abu Dhabi, UAE

The contest language is English and submissions must include four-A2 boards featuring conceptual images and descriptions. The Jury has yet to be announced.

The overall winner, to be announced on 18 July, will receive $3,000 while a second prize of $1,500, third prize of $500, student prize of $500, green prize of $500 and six honourable mentions will also be awarded.

How to apply

Deadline

The registration deadline is 30 April and submissions must be completed by 11:59pm (GMT) on 13 June

Fee

Advance registration from 19 December to 26 February: $120 professionals, $100 for students
Last minute registration from 27 February to 30 April: $140 for professionals, $120 for students

Contact details

Email: hello@beebreeders.com

View the competition website for more information

Dzintaru Park observation tower: Q&A with Arnis Kleinbergs

The architect at ARHIS Arhitekti discusses lessons learned designing a new observation tower for Jurmala, Latvia

Dzintaru Park by ARHIS Arhitekti

Dzintaru Park by ARHIS Arhitekti

Dzintaru Park by ARHIS Arhitekti

How did your project deliver a landmark viewing platform for Dzintaru Park in Latvia?

The height of the observation tower is specific to its environment. Doubtlessly, its uppermost deck had to be above the crowns of the tallest pines in the vicinity to ensure a unique view of the coast, the city of Jurmala and the distant silhouette of Riga.

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

A metal construction – suitable for dynamic elements of the construction such as the balconies and the upper deck – was the most convenient solution for the realization of an iconic tower featuring a lightweight frame. Wood trim has been used to enhance the visitors’ perception of belonging to the surroundings while the overall feeling of transparency and lightness is achieved thanks to the metal grating floor.

Dzintaru Park by ARHIS Arhitekti

Dzintaru Park by ARHIS Arhitekti

Dzintaru Park by ARHIS Arhitekti

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a new observation tower for the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in Abu Dhabi?

Unquestionably, there is no universal approach towards the design of towers. In the instance of the observation tower in Dzintaru Park, the key of success was the geometric simplicity of the construction which was furthermore elaborated with specific and attractive components. However, as good as a tower can be in its uniqueness and expressiveness or its sculptural appearance, never forget that the most important thing is to provide an intriguing and extraordinary experience to those who climb the tower.

Dzintaru Park by ARHIS Arhitekti

Dzintaru Park by ARHIS Arhitekti

Dzintaru Park by ARHIS Arhitekti