Surrounded by water

Nakheel launches massive Waterfront project.

Dubai-based developer Nakheel has officially launched its Waterfront project, the largest waterfront development in the world.

At a press conference in February, senior figures from the Waterfront team, including planning and design manager, Kathy Cusack, and renowned OMA architect Rem Koolhaas, discussed the progress of the project and the structure of the masterplan.

Managing director Matt Joyce described the project as "designing a city from scratch", covering an area twice the size of Hong Kong Island and providing accommodation for 750,000 people.

More specifically, the Waterfront site is 30km from north to south and 18km from east to west. It comprises 2,300 hectares and the amount of land being reclaimed for the islands is enough to fill Wembley Stadium twice, every month.

Split into several districts, a progress report stated that the canal portion of the project was 50-60% complete, whilst the first island was 40% finished.

On the design and masterplan of Dubai Waterfront, Rem Koolhaas said: "We're trying to extend the spectrum so that this will be inclusive and create combinations not seen before in the Middle East."

He also expressed a desire for further integration with the region as a whole, saying: "I hope this will cater to Arabic needs and wants, so it can be a truly international city rather than just a city of expats."

Joyce said that the city would have "two hearts" formed at traffic intersections, one acting as a central business district (CBD), with the other comprising low-rise developments, shopping and cultural venues.

Koolhaas admitted that developments throughout Dubai, because of their size and speed of progress, can seem superficial. "Dubai...has so much energy, but perhaps it can't make up its mind whether it's a theme park or a city."

When asked whether Waterfront would be similarly affected, the Dutch architect said: "The question of when it becomes a 'real' city isn't as big a problem as you'd think," citing that cities take time to develop and that, like every other city throughout history, this development would evolve over time.

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