Located within the diplomatic district of Sana’a, the 1.5ha master plan for the new British Embassy gardens responds to the cultural and geographic conditions of the site. The innovative landscape plan was strategically developed with the FCO to offer visitors a showcase of British design excellence through its incorporation of the celebrated principals of traditional Moorish/Islamic Gardens within a contemporary and well-protected landscape for the embassy. The ‘Paradise Garden’ theme provides four distinct character zones within the garden with varying levels of height, privacy and shelter. Authentic mud walls have been built using the ‘Zabur’ method that is traditional to the Sana’a area using teams of local craftsmen in its construction. The walls create terraced enclosed gardens offering staff and visitors framed views of the mountain ranges beyond. The semi enclosed spaces create privacy in which to relax and enjoy the landscape.
Interestingly, the project’s planting is sourced entirely from locally collected native seeds and cuttings that were grown on in a purpose-built on-site nursery. The design strategy was informed by the need to create shelter within the gardens, providing relief from prevailing winds and extreme weather conditions. The introduction of a screen of forestry trees and under storey plants, with shelter belts of selected indigenous forest plants, works to lessen the impact of high winds mitigates soil loss and reduces the need for water.
Client: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Architect: Design Engine