Foster & Partners released design renders for the second phase of the Dubai Design District (d3), their latest in a series of competitive wins in the United Arab Emirates. Inhabitat readers may recall that Foster & Partners first made a name for themselves with Masdar City’s iconic curved terracotta facades, an exceptional design partially inspired by traditional villages throughout the Middle East. They then emulated this approach for the UAE’s pavilion currently at the Milan Expo. But in Dubai, they are moving in a more edgy, industrial direction with a different material palette, flexible offices and shared workspace to incubate a new generation of creative talent.



Dubai Design District, d3, Dubai, UAE, United Arab Emirates, design incubator, arts district, passive design, Foster & Partners, coworking spaces, communal spaces, climate control, sustainable design, urban design, design district dubai

Despite its reputation as a gigantic glitz fest, Dubai is like the hip younger sister of stoic Abu Dhabi, the wealthier and more expensive of the two emirates. Over the years, Dubai’s leadership has taken enormous strides to foster local creative talent with spots like Impact Hub and the Pavilion. Now Foster & Partners will take their efforts one step further with a 1,000,000 square foot dedicated creative community within d3.

Mohammad Al Shehhi, COO of d3 notes in a press release that the various stakeholders took inspiration from other thriving design districts, like the meatpacking district in New York, to come up with an effective model that would energize Dubai artists, fashion designers, architects and other creatives.

Related: The UAE pavilion at Milan Expo 2015 inspired by traditional Middle Eastern villages

“We have undertaken extensive research and fact finding, to better understand what makes design communities really thrive. We quickly established that one of the key ingredients for a flourishing design scene, that will grow as people inhabit the area, is affordable space designed to inspire creativity,” said Al Shehhi.

“The design of d3’s Creative Community by experts such as Foster + Partners offers a fully-fledged community that will be a fantastic melting pot of innovative and creative talents, as well as emerging and established brands.”

Little is said about the design itself, except that there will be an emphasis on establishing a spirit of community with co-working facilities and outdoor display venues. It will also be pedestrian-friendly and support a comfortable microclimate, probably with the kind of passive design techniques utilized in other projects in the Middle East.

“This is an exciting initiative, which supports young creatives, and allows Dubai’s design scene to flourish from within,” said Gerard Evenden, Foster & Partners’ studio head. “Approaching the brief, our first step was to explore the balance of activities in a successful, youthful, creative hub, and to understand the aspirations of the different users…”

+ Foster & Partners