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A desert miracle.

Redesign of leading golf icon's family restaurant highlights fascinating beauty and durability of American walnut

The Emirates Golf Club is undoubtedly the most widely recognised icon of golf for the Middle East and the UAE in particular. Regarded as the oldest and the most established golf club amongst the many that have sprouted across Dubai, the Emirates Golf Club still stands majestically and lives up to its name as the one and only 'desert miracle.' In fact, its Bedouin tent club house design is globally recognised as the image of the sport in Dubai and has been home to many international golfing events that have featured the creme dela creme of golf like Ernie Els, Steve Ballesteros, Mark O'Meara, Tiger Woods and Henrik Stenson.

Family restaurant: American walnut used for the flooring

wasl Asset Management Group, the firm that manages the Emirates Golf Club, had decided that the famous golf facility needed a face-lift, wanting to give the place a more modern look but still maintaining its iconic Bedouin-themed structure. The firm called on Brewer Smith and Brewer Gulf (BSBG), a leading chartered architectural firm, to implement a fresh new design for the golf club. Ironically, BSBG is the same firm that originally designed the facility 23 years ago.

"This is an iconic building for Dubai. The Emirates Golf Club has lots of character and also a rich history; key factors that made us conscious of the fact that we shouldn't tamper with the shell, which in this case was the signature Bedouin-like appearance and ambiance," said Alistair McMillan, managing partner, BSBG.

McMillan, who has been a member of the golf club for the past 13 years, oversaw the design process from three perspectives -- as an architect, as a golfer and as a long time club member. This allowed him the advantage of being well acquainted with the weaknesses and strengths of the Emirates Golf Club.

Redesigned clubhouse: Main lobbyCHALLENGES The implementation of the new design sought to deal with the perceived weaknesses of the original concept that was implemented in 1989. Following this, the first section of the facility that BSBG addressed was the entrance area. Based on its original design, members and visitors entering the Emirates Golf Club would be greeted with the first view of the reception desk, which was then followed by a mezzanine floor that hindered a full appreciation of the tented structure of the clubhouse.

"We were conscious that we wanted an arrival point coming into the building. Before, you came in and you couldn't orientate yourself and you didn't really know where the golf course was. We wanted visitors and members alike to relish the experience of entering the clubhouse. To be able to do this, we took the mezzanine floor away and introduced a double-height spider glass exterior wall. We thought it was important to draw the building and the course together. Now, when you come into the Emirates Golf Club, you experience the tent structure and you can see the entire golf course, which is a fantastic experience," said McMillan.

Another issue that the designers wanted to work on was the flow of movement throughout the clubhouse. According to club members, the routes towards different sections of the facility were difficult and confusing, which often resulted in shuffling around the outside of the building to get to the sports facilities. McMillan and his team designed clearer routes and pathways, which flowed through the clubhouse itself as opposed to taking outside routes. In addition, the sports facilities were extended and developed as a separate entity.

M's restaurant

RESTAURANT MAKEOVER One of the key reasons for the redesign of the Emirates Golf Club was repackaging the venue as a destination and not just limit it to being a sports based facility. With this in mind, the BSBG design team set out to do a major revamp in design and concept for the family restaurant -- M's. The dining facility was designed to play an integral role in the move to highlight the Emirates Golf Club as a premier family oriented place to visit while in Dubai. American walnut was used for the flooring of the restaurant, giving the area a more classic and homely appeal to diners. According to the designers, walnut was chosen mainly for its aesthetic beauty, colour and durability with regards to traffic, wear and abrasion.

"The use of American walnut provided the family dining restaurant with an attractive classic appeal that proved to be both appealing and attractive. The hardwood we used was of very good quality, factory finished planks with heavy duty PU coating, which is durable and resistant to scratching. We were looking to use a hardwood with a medium tone brown colour and American walnut proved to be the best choice as it has no reds or greens and also offers a consistent brown that suited the requirements of this project," added Ryan Boshoff, interior design project manager, BSBG.

After the major makeover given to the family dining restaurant, the design team set out to extend the lower level of the club house, which is where the Pro Shop and additional food and beverage outlets were located. As a result, the implemented changes have helped doubled the output of the Emirates Golf Club's hospitality operations. Further, the SensAsia Spa, was added to the golf club's facilities, which included a more resort-type looking swimming pool and an upgraded gym. The new sporting and wellness centre allow club members to relax after a round of golf or come in after a long day's work at the office.

"We wanted to add some value at the lower levels, which sit within a concrete parapet. What we have done is we put a lot of glass in there, opened it up in the move to create a feeling of space. One of the ways that we did that is by making the frontage to the Spike Bar and to the central areas completely retractable. We tried to create more intimate spaces that people could identify with," concluded McMillan.

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Publication:Middle East Interiors
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Dec 1, 2012
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