Futuristic Botanic Gardens in Oman to house eight distinct habitats

Oman will build a set of futuristic looking Botanic Gardens that are designed to conserve the country’s botanic diversity and will house a vast array of different species of plant life.

The gardens will cover over 420 hectares, making them the largest in the world, and will contain a significant number of species including some that are endangered.

They will be located 35 kilometres from Muscat, in the foothills of the Al Hajar Mountains, and will also provide education and research facilities.

Arup, Grimshaw and Haley Sharpe Design worked on the engineering and architecture challenges that face the ambitious project.

The site chosen for the project is one of only a few locations in the world where the ancient seabed is still visible after tectonic activity elevated the bed to 100 metres above sea level. Arup and Grimshaw have worked with the existing natural ridges and ravines that traverse the site to design the buildings and walkways.

Visitors will experience the entire flora of the Sultanate of Oman in just a few hours. The eight defined habitats of the country are arranged at the centre of the site.

Visitors will be able to travel around the wadis, mountains and deserts of Oman within an immersive landscaped setting displaying only native species, many of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Two of the more sensitive habitats are enclosed within separate biomes to mimic the natural temperature and humidity of the unique external environments.

The Northern Biome is a sinuous glass enclosure which re-creates the varied habitats of the Northern Mountains, including their ancient terraces. The Southern Biome will enclose the rich and varied habitats found in the Dhofar region, where visitors will experience a moist and green forest ‘Khareef’ setting.

The Oman Botanic Gardens are designed to use passive and active shading, optimising natural daylight, cooling and efficient plant irrigation. Building form, shape and materials have been considered and selected in response to atmospheric conditions and the natural topography.

With water such a precious resource, particularly in the region, Arup has developed a strategy for the irrigation and water features so that it can be sustainably sourced with minimal wastage.

“At Arup we have enjoyed the many unique challenges presented by the Oman Botanic Garden: from designing natural and authentic landscapes to recreating the cool mists of the Khareef,” said Ed Clarke, project manager for the gardens.

“More than 700 of our multi-disciplinary engineers and specialist designers were engaged to explore and find solutions that would befit such an ambitious and creative brief. The Oman Botanic Garden must surely be one of the most marvellous projects in the world.”

Work on the project is due to start on site imminently.

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