Since 2009, ArtHouse Design has been working on a large-scale, multi-phase design project, with environmental graphics, signage, exhibits, public art and wayfinding, as part of the redevelopment of Umm Al Emarat (Mother of the Nation) Park in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates.
The Mother of the Nation Park, formerly Mushrif Central Park, was renamed to honor Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, chairwoman of the General Women's Union; supreme chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation; president of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood; and widow of Sheikh Zayed, the country's founding president.
The Park's transformation into a "people's park" includes a children's museum, petting zoo, botanic garden, fountains and jogging trails. According to the Mother of the Nation Park website, the new park "supports the platform for 'education through recreation' for various age groups, [creates] opportunities for different community sectors to implement their common goals, promotes an active lifestyle that contributes to a healthy society and encourages the dynamic local culture, heritage and tradition."
The country's rich history inspired ArtHouse Design to create culturally responsive designs, including a comprehensive, bilingual wayfinding and signage program for the 30-acre park that represents the local culture, landscape and wildlife, from the dress code and red crescent emblem to the Hajar Mountains and date palm, which Emiratis view as the ultimate symbol of sustainability.
"One of this project's challenges was to provide engaging experiential features for guests after dark due to the intense summer heat in the United Arab Emirates," said ArtHouse Senior Designer Beth Rosa. "Our design solution was to create illuminated custom benches and seats that change colors as visitors walk by or sit."
Additional highlights of ArtHouse Design's work for Mother of the Nation Park include:
- A custom visitors map with symbolic iconography and display kiosks
- Sand-blasted pavers outlining the history of the date palm and the fauna of the UAE
- Hand-drawn, bronze-cast fish sculptures in the central promenade fountain
- A monumental entry pavilion with hundreds of color-changing, kinetically illuminated glass panels etched with a custom tree illustration
- Eight interactive animal exhibits for the Animal Barn/Petting Zoo exhibit
- Decorative banners throughout the park and around the exterior perimeter of the park
- Gateway monument entry signs
- A wall-mounted directional sign and additional small directional signs
- Building-mounted typography
- Room/Restroom identification signage
- Garden/Amenity educational panels
- City bus wraps to advertise the park throughout Abu Dhabi
The Mother of the Nation redevelopment project team includes BrightView Design Group–JamesHyatt Studio, SA Miro, Al Ain Properties, and Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, as well as ArtHouse designers who have come and gone: Clara Carpenter, Patrick Kennedy, Chuck Desmoineaux and Brittany Sidwell.
"Over the years, our design team has changed, but we've remained steadfast in our commitment to respect and celebrate the culture and history of the United Arab Emirates," said ArtHouse Principal Designer Marty Gregg. "We wanted to create an innovative environment that gracefully blends Emirati heritage with approachable art that people will enjoy for years to come."
ArtHouse Design won a 2015 GDUSA American Graphic Design Awards Award of Recognition, 2015 HOW International Design Awards Award of Merit, and 2015 American Society of Landscape Architects (Colorado chapter) Merit Award for its design work on this project.