Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Sol Salis is a fresh green oasis in the parched desert environment of Dubai. Situated in site 2, the project takes advantage of the adjacent ocean water by proposing a solar-powered desalination plant, bringing clean water to the dry desert site, where geometric rows of green crops will cover the dry desert floor in a splash of green.

In a well-tested process developed in the 1950’s, solar humidification-dehumidification separates salt from the sea water using direct solar radiation. Since the Arabian Peninsula is blessed with sun but cursed with a lack of water, this arrangement creates a synergy of available resources.

Additionally, our research has found that The United Arab Emirates currently imports as much as 80% of its food supply; Our project therefore suggests that the water be used at the site for the irrigation of crops. In a 2008 article in UAE Interact, Dr Rajendra K Pachauri, Director-General of the Energy and Resources Institute in India and Nobel Peace Prize laureate suggested that resuscitation of farmland in the UAE is possible - "There are vast areas of land in the UAE that could be revived. I want to see how we can improve the quality of soil, to use science and technology, by which soil becomes productive, and then at least you can start growing vegetables and fruit on a larger scale."

In plan, the arrangement of these built elements has a focal point in the form of a sunflower. The sunflower head is one of the most cited examples of phyllotaxis (the study of plant patterns): its parastichies are based on the two consecutive Fibonacci numbers 55 for the clockwise set and 34 counterclockwise. The mathematical description for the phyllotaxis of the sunflower can also be adapted to define other examples of spiral based arrangements of plants. The sunflower area of the site is reserved for the public as a contemplative park space, its section in a dome shape, with a spiral ramp ascending to its peak.

A web of suspended cables at a height of 4 meters would carry a series of pressurized pipes, spraying a fine mist of water over the plants and visitors below. Above this layer of plumbing would be a loosely knit collection of solar panels, spaced at intervals such that the environment below would be partially shaded, though with ample sunlight for food production. The resulting shaded and misty zone gives the residents of this torturously dry and hot environment a welcome retreat. Instead of fencing the public out, as farms often do, Sol Salis would create a series of trails, weaving through the geometric patterns of plantings.