- Al Lawati: "The project is a big step towards the future in terms of modern urban planning."
- The project is to cover a gross floor area of 7.4 million SQM near OCEC, 4 km away from Muscat International Airport
Omran announced that a multi-disciplinary team led by Allies and Morrison has won the competition to select a masterplanning consultant for Al-Irfan urban development project in Oman, which will create a new downtown area for the Muscat capital district. The new mixed-use project will be located on a site extending to over 7.4 million square metres, with strategic links to the nearby Muscat International Airport and the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC).
The selection process was managed by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in partnership with the project developer, Omran. It followed the format of a competition via direct invitation, with five participating teams including Allies and Morrison, Broadway Malyan, HOK, Nikken Sekkei Ltd. and Skidmore Owings & Merrill Inc. Each of the competitors was tasked with developing concept masterplan proposals embracing sustainable design principles which would reflect Oman's distinctive identity.
The Masterplan proposals submitted by the five teams were assessed by a multi-disciplinary international Judging Panel comprising Alan Baxter (Alan Baxter & Associates), Professor Salma Samar Damluji (Department of Architecture & Design, American University of Beirut); Paul Finch (Deputy Chair of the Design Council), Robin Nicholson (Cullinan Studio); Peter Oborn (RIBA Vice President International); Professor AwniShaaban (Department of Civil & Architecture Engineering, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman) and Basem Al-Shihabi (Omrania& Associates, Saudi Arabia). The two highest scoring Finalists were then invited to present their proposals and answer questions from Panel members at a clarification interview.
While the Judging Panel considered that all the participating teams had submitted compelling design concepts they found that the concept developed by Allies and Morrison provided a rich narrative together with a contextual, landscape driven response to the Brief which had been designed to work with the topography while enhancing the site's unique natural setting. The Panel considered the proposals had the potential to create a thoroughly modern yet authentic and characterful scheme, that would be recognisably Omani and distinct from other destinations in the wider Gulf region.
Eng. Wael Al Lawati, Omran's Chief Executive Officer, commented:
"Al-Irfan is the Sultanate's largest mixed-use urban development project, and we wanted to ensure it is designed in a sustainable manner while reflecting the uniqueness of Omani culture and aligns with the Sultanate's long-term developmental strategy. We are delighted that the RIBA Competitions process enabled us to achieve such a successful result, which has led to the appointment of Allies and Morrison, a world-class firm in architecture and urban design."
Highlighting the importance of the Al-Irfan project, Eng. Wael Al Lawati added:
"This large-scale project is a big step towards the future in terms of modern urban planning, not just for Muscat, but also as a model for planning modern cities across the Sultanate in years to come. Al-Irfan Urban Development will provide an exciting addition to Muscat¹s new lifestyle offering, complete with a new commercial centre which will be designed to best international standards in urban planning. It will include residential, commercial, retail, recreation and tourist facilities and will also provide significant employment opportunities for Omanis, together with numerous down-stream business opportunities for Omani companies."
Graham Morrison, Partner at Allies and Morrison, commented:
"This is an extraordinarily interesting project for us to win. The project shares, in many ways, some of the same attributes of our other large scale masterplans including London's 2012 Olympic legacy plan, as it shares the same long term ambitions for a memorable, sustainable and vibrant new community. It will be a privilege to be working on such a dramatic site, to be working with the Omran team and to be working in Oman."
Photo caption: Photograph of Eng. Wael Al Lawati (Chief Executive Officer, Omran) and Graham Morrison (Partner, Allies and Morrison) at the contract signing ceremony appointing Allies and Morrison as the masterplanning consultant for Al-Irfan Urban Development Project, Muscat’.