Royal HaskoningDHV part of the World Islands project in Dubai

Off the coast of Dubai in the United Arabic Emirates Royal HaskoningDHV has helped create 300 artificial islands varying in size from 2.3 to 8.4 hectares.

Photo courtesy of Royal HaskoningDHV

The key challenge is reshaping the Dubai Coastline and creating new islands from first sketch up to build, construct and realization – all while protecting them from the sea.

Due to the special nature of the environment, the client preferred the islands to have the atmosphere of luxury islands such as Maldives or Seychelles with a natural appearance resulting in extra challenging requirements to the coastal protection.

Urban development, masterplanning and architecture require a focus on surroundings, understanding of the many functions, an eye to the users, and insight into the financial feasibility of intervention. In other words: it requires integrated planning from the idea to the implementation.

And – due to the special natural marine environment of the project and to ensure that the occupants will enjoy the pleasant environment of the island – it’s also important to minimise the impacts associated with the design, construction and occupancy of the island.

The isolated developments in The World also demand a complete self-supporting system, which includes electricity, cooling, water, wastewater, gas, communications, and fire safety. Not having power or water available for developers or residents is simply not an option.

Careful planning and incorporation of the required utilities within the overall development right from the start delivers a major advantage in terms of costs and time. The big challenge here compared to regular onshore developments is that utility services are not available from a common grid.

The solution: a sustainable design that took aesthetics into account at every stage

Royal HaskoningDHV has been committed to reshaping the coastline of Dubai since 2001 starting with the ‘edge’ structures of Palm Jumeirah. Korea Island, Borneo Island, Isla Moda Island, Jalashya Island, Oqyana Island and Coral Island are the islands the company worked on.

The company focuses on the core qualities of an area or building resulting in a design with its own characteristics and a recognizable identity. Royal HaskoningDHV strives to optimize materials, maximize recyclability, keep energy use down, and minimise maintenance – leading to a minimal environmental impact throughout the lifecycle of a building.

In the Environmental Impact Assessment – carried out for the group of islands as a whole – the company therefore focused on the quality of the surrounding waters, marine ecosystems, noise, air and human environments.

Royal HaskoningDHV used an integrated sustainable design approach enabling them to position utilities as much as possible within structures or the subsurface. This ensures all required utilities are available and supplied unobtrusively, sustainable, and – above all – comply with aesthetic expectations of architects and clients.

The result: an island group and reef with a natural appearance

The company received several design awards for their part in this work. Royal HaskoningDHV kept the project’s goals at the heart of the work, always considering the end result.

For example, the company’s extensive underwater ‘berm’ guarantees that the incoming waves are broken before they reach the relatively narrow crest above water, which allows a minimum of visual hindrance towards the open sea. This ensures a natural appearance of the reef and The World as a whole.