The Dubai Knowledge Fund is located on a site located in the centre of Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), the world’s largest free zone dedicated to higher education. Two decades ago, this area belonged to the Dubai desert. Now, it is home to over 25 international universities and educational institutions, with 24,000 students from 145 nationalities. The site will be developed mainly into a mixed-use zone, serving surrounding institutes and other areas of Dubai.
The 155 hectare plot will contain 100 hectares of build program. There will be a focus on student and staff accommodation and the required services to create a vivid and modern hub for the academic city, but it will also include office space (to support the academic institutions, commercial and recreational programs), appropriate retail and hospitality facilities, and capacity for centres of excellence and research and development facilities.
OMA’s masterplan resembles a checkerboard, where the urban fabric is marked off into alternating squares, arranged in three rows and 6 columns. Each 360 x 360m superblock, based on a walking distance radius of 250m, will be structured differently, inspired by existing successful urban typologies, producing different urban qualities within the masterplan. Within the office/education buildings, a central pedestrian spine will be defined, linking all the individual office developments and extending towards the residential blocks.
Public spaces will be carved out of each individual block to form a continuous loop of landscaped parks for recreation. The site connects to two highways, namely Sheikh Zayed Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan Street (D54) and Emirates Road (E611), and different public transportation systems; it is important to note that the Dubai Metro Green Line will be extended to reach the development site. The grid ensures that, from any point in the block, it is possible to reach a main road and a bus stop.