Eric Tan, AIA; Leon Lai; Katayoun Lazar
Dubai Smiles is a recreational project aiming to serve communities in need.
Dubai Smiles is a project that seeks to address the challenge of boredom, loneliness, and a lack of shaded rest areas for adult residents in the Al Souq Al Kabeer district of Dubai. Al Souq is a predominantly lower-income Southeast Asian immigrant enclave with a population that is mostly adult and male. Currently, public amenities in Al Souq are paltry to nonexistent, with no public parks, recreational, or shaded areas within a one-kilometer radius of the neighborhood. The lack of social infrastructure continues in Al Souq after working hours with no public places to gather, relax, or play.
Dubai Smiles tackles this lack of social infrastructure with a public recreational area featuring a giant swing set underneath a dynamic billowing canopy. Accessible to everybody, the pleasures of avoiding the heat while swinging on a simple swing transcends ethnicity, class, and age. This simple design utilizes only two main materials - metal frames and fabric. Shorter lengths of fabric are draped over metal frames to create shaded canopies. Longer lengths of fabric are draped to create a sea of swings, hammocks, and chairs. Dubai Smiles encourages visitors to play and form their own spaces, temporarily free from the stresses of urban living and the intense desert sun; it can be a new model for collective play in Dubai and serve as an unprecedented neighborhood amenity for everyone in Al Souq.