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Omran awards Al Irfan project master plan contract.

Muscat: Omran announced that a multidisciplinary team led by Allies and Morrison has won the competition to select a master planning 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 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. Sustainable design Each of the competitors was tasked with developing a concept master plan proposal embracing sustainable design principles which would reflect Oman's distinctive identity. The master plan proposals submitted by the five teams were assessed by a multi- disciplinary international judging panel comprising Alan Baxter of Alan Baxter & Associates, Professor Salma Samar Damluji from the Department of Architecture and Design, American University of Beirut, Paul Finch, deputy chair of the Design Council, Robin Nicholson of Cullinan Studio, and Peter Oborn, vice president, RIBA International, in addition to Professor Awni Shaaban of the Department of Civil and Architecture Engineering, Sultan Qaboos University, and Basem Al Shihabi of Omrania & Associates, Saudi Arabia. The two highest scoring finalists were then invited to present their proposals and answer questions from panel members at an interview. While the 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. Modern scheme The panel said the proposals had the potential to create a thoroughly modern yet authentic and characteristic 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, said, "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 competitive 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." Large-scale project 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 Muscat's 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." Interesting project Graham Morrison, partner at Allies and Morrison, said, "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 master plans 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."

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Jan 14, 2015
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