Club class

The latest launch by Four Seasons is a striking architectural golf club in Dubai Festival City.

Murano glass chandeliers adorn the Bistro ceiling.
Murano glass chandeliers adorn the Bistro ceiling.

No stranger to the Four Seasons' style and attention to detail, interior design firm Yabu Pushelberg has previously designed the Four Seasons in Marunouchi and Hong Kong and is currently working on the flagship in Toronto and Four Seasons Residences in Bora Bora. However, the unusual form of this Dubai Festival City clubhouse, situated on the Al Badia 18-hole championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II, made this commission slightly different. Designer Alison Mcneil tells CID how the US-based firm approached the design brief.

"Our intention was to create a space in the spirit of the Four Seasons but the building form we were given was quite monumental and striking, including a curving spiral with 8m ceilings," she explains. The building hosts a complex program that includes five different food and beverage experiences, encompassing a patisserie, bistro, a casual and a fine dining restaurant in addition to a private members bar. Luxurious locker rooms as well as numerous retail and event spaces ensure that it is in essence, a hotel without the rooms. neil adds: "This golf club differs to most in the city in terms of the choice of dining venues, the spa-like locker rooms and the overall luxury of appointment in the space as a whole. It is designed and provides a service much closer to a hotel than a traditional golf club."

In order to highlight the stunning architecture and shape of the building, a specialist lighting consultancy was brought in to create a lighting package that complemented the golf club's interior design.

Alan Mitchell from Neolight introduced architectural lighting concepts that now take centre stage in many of the areas. He started by lighting the exterior of the property with narrow beam metal halide uplights, which illuminate the palm trees lining the driveway. He also used LED marker lights on the pedestrian walkways and uplights in the canopies.

In the interior, the coffee shop area has a feature wall light with halo cold cathodes and beams of light designed to add a dramatic effect. It boasts a 15m ceiling height, which proved ideal to implement an impressive lighting concept. In the patisserie Mcneil maintained the monumental scale and form of the building by following the curve with peeling walls but she tried to make it much more human by introducing rosewood monoliths to create rooms, thereby reducing the scale to a more intimate size.

The attention to detail and the Four Seasons' insistence on creating a product outside of the norm is evident throughout, as Mcneil explains: "Any design under the Four Seasons brand has to offer the best and most luxurious product. For example, the wine wall outside the fine dining restaurant, is not only aesthetically pleasing with soaring backlit onyx walls, it also stores every variety of wine with seven different refrigerator systems so that they are all housed at the right temperatures."

Inside the fine dining restaurant, the slope of the building is carefully followed creating a series of cascading cave-like curves, which form a slope from 7m to 3m. Lit by recessed floor lighting, the effect is very theatrical. The drama continues into the Bistro restaurant too as 3.5m tall Murano glass chandeliers hang in a line down from the centre of the space and an angular metal divide creates a stylish transparent partition.

In Spikes restaurant Yabu Pushelberg has created a light white and green restaurant, which mimics the topography of a golf course. The Members Bar, however, sharply contrasts with the bright atmosphere of Spikes, and instead takes its inspiration from the dark and moody exclusive clubs of the Art Deco period. It was conceived to be a private enclave for the golfers - a welcome respite after a day on the course.

Mcneil opted for a variety of flooring solutions to suit the intended use and concept for each space. The majority of the flooring in the public areas is honed Ligourio Marron stone by Interstone, which is a practical application for the areas of heavier traffic, while traditional wooden flooring was used in the Members Bar and Quattro. Carpet supplied by Crossley and Sullivan Source was used on the ground floor and in Spikes restaurant.

Mcneil tells how the Four Seasons was heavily involved in the design, reviewing all design work from an operational point of view and to ensure that the plans met its high standards of achieving a luxury world-class project. This is evident in the choice of manufacturers that were used as the furniture was sourced from a wide selection of suppliers. John Houshmand manufactured the rough timber pieces while much of the soft seating was from Gervasoni, Maxalto, and Palumbo. The dining chairs were sourced from Spanish furniture firm Andreu World and the Italian furniture heavyweights, Moroso. Occasional furniture, including side tables, were supplied by Kenneth Cobonpue and Pucci among others, while the large stone table in the Al Badia Suite was supplied by Odeguard.

There is an extensive art collection in the Golf Club, which was selected by the art consultant, James Robertson (JRArt), who has worked for Four Seasons before on its projects in Marunouchi and Hong Kong. he wooden scupltural columns were created by Sawada Hirotoshi and the ceramic pieces were produced by Pascale Girardin. The paintings are by numerous artists including: Laura Wood, Celia Neubauer, Jan Czwewinski and Michael Batty. Accessories include wooden vessels by Lucy Le Feuvre.

One space that Mcneil singles out as being more reminiscent of a spa in a five star hotel, rather than a traditional golfing venue, are the locker rooms. They encompass private suites and a light and airy lounge for relaxation, which is punctuated by glass walls that have sculptures suspended inside. The changing rooms are lit with LV downlights and linear halogen wall lights. The Jacuzzi area has linear recessed LEDs to emphasise the contemporary crispness of the space.

The design from concept to construction drawings was completed in five months, but the entire construction project took over two years with a budget in excess of US$40million. This commitment to detail means that when asked what her favourite part of the design is, Mcneil is unable to pinpoint just one element: "The design is cohesive and is more like an essay than a sentence, therefore it is so difficult to pick just one thing!"

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