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2012 Award of Honor - One & Only Royal Mirage
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Project Category: Resort and Entertainment 

Project Name: One & Only Royal Mirage 

Project Location : Dubai, United Arab Emirates 

Date of Completion: August 1999 (The Palace), November 2002 (Arabian Court and Residence & Spa)

Landscape Architect: EDSA, Inc. - J. Robert Behling, FASLA, PLA


Landscape Contractor: Desert Landscape

 Owner: Mirage Leisure & Development, Inc. - Dene Murphy, CEO

The One & Only Royal Mirage is considered the most stylish and successful resort on Jumeirah Beach and one of the first resort destinations to pay tribute to Arabian architecture and hospitality on a truly regal scale.

Hailed as one of the finest five-star resorts in the region, the first phase of One & Only Royal Mirage, The Palace, opened in August 1999. The 65-acre resort is comprised of three equally distinctive properties - The Palace, Arabian Court and Residence & Spa - offering visitors a unique cultural experience with landscaped gardens, water fountains and meandering pathways. The 640-room resort destination accurately reflects the magical moments and mythic charms of old Arabia with the use of intricate arches, domes and towers, interspersed by courtyards, fountains, pools, rich green lawns, and immaculate flower beds.

The architectural vernacular of buildings and the landscape for the entire resort rely heavily upon two of the six traditional Islamic Schools of Design, with the greatest emphasis given to the Moorish and Mughal styles, which are the most closely compatible in design vernacular. Important elements of the Islamic Garden Schools include the fortress walls which protect this private space from the outside world, a formality of design that relies on symmetry and axiality, garden spaces offering ample opportunity for rest and contemplation, running water and pools to reflect the sky and garden elements, and cool the garden courtyards.

Water was also used to emphasize visual axes, and seemingly multiplies the adjacent architecture and its decorative detailing. While the gardens celebrate the rich history of the Islamic Gardens Schools, the resort is not a direct interpretation of these schools, as the landscape incorporates regionally appropriate plant materials that thrive in the harsh desert seaside conditions.

One of the biggest design challenges was the seaside location with its hot, arid and humid climate, where temperatures can reach over 120 0F in the summer.  Another was creating a unified feel for a resort that was developed in two phases. These were addressed by using plants and construction materials that are indigenous to the area throughout the resort, such as arid-climate/salt tolerant plants and native sandstones. Indigenous date palms, found locally in the desert, were utilized to create allĂ©es and help organize spaces and circulation as well as provide filtered shade along walkways, terraces and pool decks.

Locally available sandstones were used extensively for walkways, terraces and pool decks where hot surface temperatures could be an issue. Numerous courtyards with water features and shade to provide cooling effects were located throughout the resort to provide comfortable spaces in all seasons. Finally the design team of landscape architects, architects and interior designers, coordinated closely with the owners throughout the design process, to merge the architecture and landscape into a seamless transition of materials and design style throughout the resort.


Design Architect: WATG

 Interior Design: Wilson Associates

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