Madinat Al Soor Dubai, Nakheel UAE

Madinat Al Soor Dubai Architect, Nakheel Building Design, UAE Property Image, Real Estate Picture

Madinat Al Soor Dubai

UAE Waterfront City Development for Nakheel design by RMJM architects

6 Oct 2008

International Architects, RMJM, Commissioned by Nakheel to design Waterfront “Madinat Al Soor”

Madinat Al Soor Dubai

Madinat Al Soor Dubai, Nakheel UAE
image courtesy of architects practice

Madinat Al Soor

Dubai, UAE– October 6, 2008 – International award-winning architecture firm RMJM has been selected by Nakheel, one of the world’s largest real estate developers, to design the one-million-square-metre “Madinat Al Soor” mixed-use development, a sustainable, modern pedestrian city for approximately 22,000 new residents.

Madinat Al Soor is part of Waterfront City, jointly masterplanned by Nakheel and the Rotterdam-based Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and forms the centerpiece of Nakheel’s Waterfront project in Jebel Ali. Waterfront aims to transform 1.4 billion square feet of empty desert and sea into an international community for an estimated population of 1.5 million people. Waterfront City is composed of Madinat Al Soor, the Island, the Boulevard, the Resort and the Marina, will be twice the size of Hong Kong island.

Located at the harbour entrance to Waterfront City, Madinat Al Soor, which means literally “City of the Wall,” will include residences, souks, hotels, as well as civic and cultural facilities. In contrast to many of the developments being built in Dubai, Madinat Al Soor derives its inspiration from the richly textured, Arabic settlements, with their narrow and intimate streets, compact, low-rise buildings and courtyards, canal systems and waterfront spaces, and emphasis on environmental sustainability. The project is led in partnership from both RMJM’s New York and Dubai offices.

“The Madinat Al Soor development will tie together the best elements of the ‘Old Dubai’ and the ‘New Dubai’,” comments RMJM’s New York-based Design Studio Director Steven K. Gifford. “It will be unlike any other city or development in the region – livable, walkable and sustainable.”

Matt Joyce, Waterfront Managing Director, Nakheel, added, “Waterfront is the largest and most ambitious urban development project to be masterplanned completely from scratch. We were tasked with creating a central business district that not only competes on a global scale, but that acts as the centre for a new, to be developed, city.”

The name “Al Soor” or “The Wall,” originates from the development’s most prominent structure – a large, inhabited wall element on the western tip of the site. The site is surrounded by water on three sides – the north side has a beach and the south, a quay. The building clusters and irregular street patterns will integrate the wall with other key spaces in the town. The distribution of the program allows for the creation of mixed-use neighbourhoods, each with a unique character, through the strategic position of retail and public routes along the canal.

“After more than 30 years working in the Middle East, RMJM is delighted to work on a project that takes its inspiration from traditional architecture and spatial forms yet the final design for the individual buildings and spaces will reflect a contemporary understanding of the Arabic architectural vernacular,” said Bahram Shirdel, Design Director of RMJM in Dubai.

“This exciting development is superbly located. It is a walk away from the beachfront resorts, the town souks, the serene canals, the spectacular waterfront in addition to being close to two of the area’s signature buildings, The Spiral and The Sphere,” he added.

Peter Schubert, RMJM’s New York-based Design Director, comments, “Our intention is to breathe life into the client’s vision for a richly textured, human-scale city by uniting Arabic architectural forms and planning strategies with a modern design sensibility in accordance with Dubai’s position as a world-class city of innovative architecture.

“Central to our approach is the equal attention given to both the design of buildings and the design of open spaces – streets, plazas, bridges, gardens, and courtyards,” he continues. “The push and pull between the shape and character of the exterior spaces and building forms will ensure a well crafted totality.”

While prototypical Arabic town planning principles inform the project, individual buildings and spaces will reflect a modern understanding of the Arabic architectural vernacular and will conform to contemporary building methods. Indigenous sustainable design techniques will be integrated, with an emphasis on passive solar shading and siting to achieve a natural cooling effect. The site’s position is ideally situated to capture the cooling breezes of the local northwesterly prevailing wind, and the combination of solar shading, light ventilated roof systems, and landscape design could result in energy savings of as much as 30 to 40 percent.

Dubai-based Nakheel is the developer of the project. Rotterdam-based OMA is the joint master planner. Dubai-based Dariush Zandi, an architect and urban designer who was the Senior Architect and Town Planner for the Dubai Municipality from 1981-1994, has been retained as a design consultant.

RMJM has been active in the Middle East since 1972 and has worked on a wide range of design assignments including masterplanning, architecture and design for office towers, residential and hospitality buildings, civic buildings, transportation and interior design. Other RMJM projects in the Middle East include the Dubai Tower Doha, ADNEC Capital Gate and DIFC’s Gate Precinct.


RMJM is a UK-based international firm of architects with offices throughout the UK, Asia, the Middle East and the USA. Founded in 1956 by renowned British architects Robert Matthew and Stirrat Johnson-Marshall, today RMJM is one of the world’s largest architectural practices and employs approximately 1,200 people in 15 international offices in Cambridge, Dubai, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hong Kong, London, Moscow, New York, Philadelphia, Princeton, Shanghai, Singapore, St Petersburg, Warsaw and Washington D.C.

RMJM’s expertise and design-led approach is successfully demonstrated in on-going projects in more than 20 countries spanning a wide range of key sectors, from corporate headquarters and waterfront residential developments to major public buildings, university campuses and large-scale regeneration programmes. The company currently has over £10 billion (US$20 billion) worth of construction projects on its drawing boards, including some of the world’s most high-profile and ambitious projects.


Nakheel is one of the world’s largest privately held real estate developers, and a key player in realising the vision of Dubai for the 21st century: creating a world class destination for living, business and tourism. Nakheel is developing an iconic portfolio of innovative landmark projects in Dubai across a range of sectors – residential, commercial, retail and leisure.

Nakheel’s developments spread across more than two billion sq ft of land, and its projects are projected to be worth US$80 billion. Upon completion Nakheel’s waterfront projects will have added more than 1000km of shoreline to Dubai’s coastline.

Madinat Al Soor design : RMJM Architects

Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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