Dubai Models Hip Design District After NYC’s Meatpacking and East London’s Shoreditch

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Artist rendering of the Dubai Design District

You can’t become hip overnight. First you have to practice your craft—walk the runway, sketch the pad, splash the canvas, or experiment with ingredients. Once you’ve mastered your talent (be it fashion, art or cuisine), perhaps you’ll be invited to Dubai’s Design District, the emerging international design village looking for inspired creatives.

Artist rendering of the Dubai Design District

Artist rendering of the Dubai Design District

When fully completed, the burgeoning Dubai Design District (a.k.a. D3) will shine as the United Arab Emirates city’s new creative quarter where fine design, art, fashion, cuisine, luxury, and people of influence and affluence co-mingle. D3 doesn’t yet have the reputation of New York’s Meatpacking District or East London’s Shoreditch neighborhood, but it has a cooler moniker that signals similar hotspot hipness.

D3 officially opened last month with the first of more than 200 corporate brands and studios who will call the area their home (Hugo Boss and La Perla included). Now Foster & Partners will deliver Phase 2 of the project by injecting an international design culture into the globally diverse city—all inspired by the Meatpacking and Shoreditch communities in New York and London, respectively.

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D3 will serve as an artist colony, modeled after New York’s Meatpacking District and London’s Shoreditch neighborhoods.

D3 will attract emerging artists, designers, and other young people who will engage galleries, studios, restaurants and outdoor event spaces.

D3 will attract emerging artists, designers, and other young people who will engage galleries, studios, restaurants and outdoor event spaces.

Foster & Partners’ architectural foundation will inspire Dubai’s most creative talents and industries to express themselves within D3’s new environment of contemporary offices, communal working facilities, pedestrian streets, and outdoor event spaces. This strategy is designed to attract startup companies, young people, emerging artists, designers, studios, galleries, and even Michelin restaurants into the neighborhood. As reported by Dezeen, a key ambition is to allow these new spaces to evolve organically, so they can adapt to any purpose.

“This is an exciting initiative which supports young creatives, and allows Dubai’s design scene to flourish from within,” says Gerard Evenden, Foster & Partner’s studio head. As idealistic as that sounds, Phase 1 could be called “the establishment phase”—delivering the top-down corporate approach before implementing the designer culture—just in case.

Foster & Partner's created D3’s design-centric environment of contemporary offices, communal working facilities and pedestrian streets.

Foster & Partner’s created D3’s design-centric environment of contemporary offices, communal working facilities and pedestrian streets.

This creative district culture will plant an entrepreneurial seed that gives D3 potential to become one of the world’s premiere destinations for design, fashion, art and luxury, according to Mohammad Al Shehhi, chief operating officer of D3.

Foster & Partners won the project through a design competition. Phase 2 will be completed in 2017, followed by a Phase 3 waterfront promenade. In 2011, Foster & Partners also designed The Souk, a central shopping market of food, crafts and high-end boutiques in the UAE’s other large city—Abu Dhabi.

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