Open Air Discovery
The redesigned Sheikha Fatima Park will be integrated within the wider community to create a place of discovery and family interactivity. Here, RLI speaks with Walid El Hindi, CEO of IMKAN Properties to learn more about this innovative and exciting upcoming urban green space.
The owners of Sheikha Fatima Park (SFP), Abu Dhabi Municipality, selected IMKAN as their joint venture partner to redevelop what was historically a park that catered to women and children only. As part of Abu Dhabi’s 2030 Vision to enhance social liveability, the Municipality gave IMKAN the mandate to repurpose this park set in the midst of a key historical community of Khalidiya in mainland Abu Dhabi. “We at IMKAN have answered this call and will create the Emirate’s first urban lifestyle park reimagined with one-of-akind offerings within an overarching theme of active wellness,” explains Walid El Hindi, CEO of IMKAN Properties.
As placemakers, the approach to this new project began with its internal R&D platform. Once it was decided to create a place that is multi-layered in its offerings and its demographical reach, it led the team to the design of three specific zones (retail and food & beverage, adventure, neighbourhood) within this 46,000sq m project. “Additionally, local climate patterns led us to study and design elements to create sustainability measures to include microclimate areas which enable extended enjoyment by the community over the course of the whole year,” El Hindi says. In line with the park’s theme of active wellness, visitors can expect a robust suite of leisure and sports activities to include a skate park, basketball court, splash pads, zip line, outdoor yoga, pop-up movies and small concerts among others.
Visitors will also be able to park in a dedicated parking structure with over 300 spaces. The retail element of SFP will be set across 10,000sq m and six boutique style buildings. The merchandise mix will be curated to offer fresh exciting concepts that support and prioritise local start-ups and regional brands that cater to activities, wellness, education and quality food. It is an all-premium offer, but an offer available at affordable pricing. “Surrounded by a strong daytime office population, the park will provide a richer variety of F&B than currently exists, along with retail uses and services that will be available during lunch or other breaks. Additionally, there is a growing millennial segments seeking cool concepts that will keep them active and entertained over the weekend,” explains El Hindi.
As Abu Dhabi’s first urban park, SFP will have over 450 trees with 16 profiles and heights ranging from two to eight metres. Since all the parks have historically had walls surrounding them in the region, this development will be one of the first parks that will not be enclosed to create the openness the congested area lacks. “Quite simply, SFP will be a soulful community that enriches people’s lives; IMKAN’s core purpose as a real estate developer.”
In accordance with the project brief, IMKAN intends to bring offerings that are unique to the community whilst providing an open park dedicated to all age groups. The design aims to transform an underutilised space into an open, vibrant, and easily accessible public recreational and leisure destination. The scheme is built on an innovative approach to development by integrating the park within new commercial components, defining and shaping the resulting urban space to promote access to the park and synergistically activate the site’s major street frontages.
While the scale of SFP may not match such global urban parks as Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York, Manhattan’s Central Park, London’s Hyde Park or Amsterdam’s Vondel Park to name a few, the elements offered at this park will be curated to fit and complement the cultural profile and nuances of Abu Dhabi. El Hindi believes the project and its elements will speak for themselves given the unique quality and richness of the overall development. With a strong catchment surrounding the project, he believes that these visitors, and those from the wider areas of Abu Dhabi, will want to return to remember their past and experience the new.
Finally we ask El Hindi that, when looking forward, what are the key priorities and what challenges are left before completion? “The park’s retail buildings are scheduled to complete their core and shell condition by December this year; this will be followed by all the landscaping works, which are due to complete in April 2020. Me and the team at IMKAN are focused on attracting a balanced set of key tenancies to complete the wonderful vision that is already being brought to fruition at Shekiha Fatima Park,” he concludes.