Neorama & Steelblue
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
130,000 M² ISLAND, 21 ESTATES @ 1700 M², 28 VILLAS @ 930 M², 1 HOTEL
Masterplan and hotel design, Villa design implementation
Sculptures and models
Marketing renders and video
Privacy and community created by a green architectural carpet
The studio was commissioned to design a high-end residential masterplan for Nurai, a private island that lays twelve miles off the coast of Abu Dhabi. Comprising 135,000 square meters of vacant land, the isle’s developer wanted to attract residents who own multiple properties around the world. We wanted Nurai to be more than just another destination for them—but our design needed to achieve this without interrupting the solitary environment that gives Nurai its appeal. I started thinking about the definition of luxury for a person who has everything. The essence of luxury on Nurai, we reasoned, is privacy. How could we build a community on the island while simultaneously providing solitude?
I’ve long admired the Persian Gulf for its skillful carpet making. The thought of a floor covering prompted a compelling image in my mind’s eye: when we don’t want to see something, we have a very childish instinct to hide the object beneath a rug. I began a sketch of a giant green architectural carpet over the island, tucking both residences and amenities that detract from the notion of solitude underneath. We positioned each building in such a way that, from the roof, all the other structures are hidden by the continuous surface. The green carpet successfully balances isolation with material comfort.
Our masterplan for Nurai, now fully built, features twelve water villas that complement twenty-four land villas, which are built in two typologies: one situated directly on the beach, the other recessed into the landscape. Oriented adjacent to one another, the land residences zigzag throughout the site, all covered by a blanket of grass. The green carpet both distinguishes and unifies the project. Throughout many discussions with engineers and other collaborators, someone would invariably mention the importance of the vegetated blanket. The concept not only protected the integrity of the design, but also demonstrated the powerful impact of a holistic idea.