United Arab Emirates (2007-2008)

PPS worked on a comprehensive development project in a major United Arab Emirates city* to develop public space design and program recommendations.

The project was intended to improve the downtown of an 80 million square foot mixed-use development, including an extensive plan to responsibly develop natural and man-made waterfronts in the area. Until now, development in the Gulf state has proceeded almost entirely without mind to regional integration or the provision of public space, and as a result, newer sections of U.A.E cities currently lack a city center. Private spaces, like malls, hotels and fantastical entertainment palaces, have become ersatz Main Streets and plazas for a privileged subset of the population, while the working classes have been relegated to crowded residential compounds at the periphery of these sprawling cities. PPS attempted to right some of these injustices by advocating for real public spaces and human scale development within the mixed-use, transit-oriented development with which we are involved.

PPS’s work with U.A.E. waterfronts includes plans to create equal opportunity and public space access for all citizens. Waterfront development plans will incorporate restaurant esplanades, accessible hotel waterfronts, inclusion of an amphitheater, public marina access, waterfront markets and active parks.

In addition to leading the programming and conceptual design for the public spaces, PPS is inventorying the world’s best public spaces and will apply their lessons to emerging cities in which the development of public space from inception is possible. While our work in U.A.E. represents a departure from the types of projects with which PPS is usually associated, our role as proponents of placemaking within it remains the same. This work is providing PPS with a unique opportunity to create a lasting impact in a developing urban area, at the location of an emerging social and economic crossroads.

*Our client has requested that the exact location of this project be kept confidential.