Palms of the Middle East: Proposition of the Dubai Visitor Center

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

Hello dear Readers, I hope you are all having a blessed day and that everything is going well on your side. It's been a long time since I wrote on my blog and presented to you amazing designs from all over the world and for that, I give you my sincere apologies. Therefore I think it is only fair to present to you what I have been working on during the month of April and the reason why I needed a long recovery.

As you may know, a part of my architecture study is to give birth to a sustainable project, as formal communication of the ideas and solutions emerging from the request given by our professors. As a consequence, my classmate and I were given a final assignment for our Studio class, the briefing was to design the Dubai Visitor Center in respect to the site characteristics and a concept tied to the cultural baggage of the UAE. In order to achieve this task, we had to follow a design process of our choice which had to properly and clearly embody the concept chosen.

Well, as you can read by the title of this article, my concept was the Palm tree. The reason why I'd chosen this element as my concept is firstly because of the symbolic importance of the palm tree in Arabic culture, as well as the sustainability status it's held on the economic, cultural, and historical layout of the UAE. The second reason which guided my choice was my desire for my building to providing a clear oriental scenery to the visitors.

First of all, I need to explain to you what is a visitor center and why it is important for the touristic sector of every country. A visitor center is a physical location that allows tourist to be aware of all the different activity held by the city, its cultural and historical heritage, as well as all the information related to the tourism in the region. It is necessary for every city to have one in order to provide a landmark to its tourist, this type of structure is even more important for a city of tourist significance such as Dubai.

In order to efficiently present to you my building, I will break down my design process from the start until the finished product.

The Brief

As explained earlier, this part is the starting point of any architectural project. The request given by the professor gave me guidelines and particular understandings on the expectation of my final design. As one of the most important stages to fully comprehend, I decided to breakdown any keywords that will be necessary for my design to be efficient. Keywords such as architectural drawings, site analysis, final model, and spacial characteristic had to be addressed by the end of my creation. When it came to the spacial characteristic of my building, spaces such as a public bathroom, a souvenir shop, an office, a storage unite, a front desk, display areas, sitting area, and an additional space were required. Due to my desire for my building to be a landmark for all my visitors, I decided to design a library as my additional space for the tourist to learn more about the UAE itself.

Floor Plans of the buildings

The Analysis

As an early class in my study, my analysis mainly focused upon the site characteristic, I had to come up with sustainable solution communicant my building and its surrounding. Located next to the water canal traversing the business bay in Dubai, the main advantages of my site were the water feature, its accessibility and its beautiful view to the Burj Khalifa. Nevertheless some of the biggest disadvantages were the presence of a billboard that I couldn't remove, the typology of the site, and finally the natural climate of the region. All those factors hugged me to push my reflection outside of the box and to seek for simple yet efficient design.

The Synthesis

In respect to the reflexion and solution emerging from the site analysis, I formulated my concept to properly portray all the research and understanding of the previous step from the design process. Indeed, as a desire to offer a particular scenery to my visitors while not being too obvious, I decided to decompose the structure of a palm tree in three part: the trunk, the fibrous threads, and the leaves. This allowed me to process each part separately and bring them back together as a cohesive design. The fibrous threads played as the walls of each part of my building which embodied a fluent flow of lines. The trunk was each part of my building interlaced between the curved walls, in order to properly represent the trunk, I also decided to cover them with a rough exterior texture. Finally, the leaves represented the shading roofs on all the exterior spaces connected by the extended curved exterior walls. The overall shapes of the building was driven by my wish to provide protection from the wind and the sun, which justify the design of extended walls and fewer windows (only positioned with strategic views)

The Implementation

This stage is the formulation of all the previous step through formal drawings such as plans, elevation, and perspectives. It was important for me to convey a fluent circulation of each visitor throughout each space and amenities of the site in relation with the fluent rhythm of my building itself. Therefore my site typology follows the movement my building's walls. As a solution for the natural climate of the region I decided to included palm trees to help with the prevailing winds (which brings the sand), I also positioned my building to offer the best view on the water canal and the Burj Khalifa while providing protection from the sun to the visitors. By adding a water feature in the site, I keen to connect my design with its surrounding.


Dear future architects, it is your time to shine and hopefully not get burn, but with more seriousness, in this stage I had to present my design and showcase it in front of judges. Needless to say I was stressed and drained out at this point because I haven't properly slept for 3 days, but I was ready to defend my ideas. As a side note, if you are an architecture student just like me or if you are simply curious, I highly suggest you to always defend your design but at the same time stay with an open mind during this stage of your process because you may hear constructive criticism from the judges. Moreover, don't let your lack of sleep pressure you into not being in the moment and giving the best presentation you can.

That's it guys, I hoped you enjoyed this article. For all my fellow architecture students, hopefully, this article help gave you an idea on how you can come up with a solution in your design and what type of process you can embody. If you want to have more advices from me, I suggest you go read the article I wrote on my life as an architecture student so far ♡.


© 2023 by Design for Life.

remastered by Marie-Pierre Mavioga