The first club dedicated exclusively to women was built in the splendid setting of Abu Dhabi, overlooking a lagoon in the crystal clear sea of the Persian Gulf. In the new club, luxury and comfort bear the signature of Urbanism Planining Architecture, an international architecture firm with offices in Milan and Abu Dhabi. The main architect of the studio and co-founder is the Italian architect Paolo Lettieri.
This elegant and luxurious structure represents an oasis of well-being and relaxation for women, but above all, it speaks to us of a culture, the Arab one, which sees women, by tradition and religion, strictly separated from men. It is well known that in Middle Eastern society the life of men and women is clearly divided and distinct: all houses have two living rooms, one for men and the other for women; at school, women study separately from the opposite sex and public places also have waiting rooms for women only.
If in everyday life the separation between the sexes could perhaps represent for the eyes of Westerners an exclusion of women from a male chauvinist society, the Ladies Club becomes a privileged place par excellence for women. A club where women from an elite by social and economic position can experience, in complete privacy and confidentiality, all the pleasures of luxury, body care and relaxation.
The project was started in 2008 with the first sketches of the concept of the architect Paolo Lettieri, who in addition to the Club House project, has been involved in the design of many internal areas over time. The designers of the entire complex also include the architect Aswan Zubaidi, the Interior Designer Sahar A. Yousif and australian architect Tony Owen.
The modern and organic architecture of the Club House (the 12,000 sqm main building) recalls the floral forms in plan: the client's request was to have a unique building, highly iconic and with sinuous and non-rigid shapes. The sinuous forms have generated fluid and unusual spaces that make this architecture highly characterizing. The plant embraces a semi-covered central space is called Festival Space. In this space there are the outdoor swimming pool and the solarium area overlooking the park and the beach.
The cladding of the building is in stone, while the floors of the prestigious areas are in Carrara Calacatta marble.
The Club House includes a restaurant, a cafeteria, a lounge area and a VIP area, a fitness area and a VIP fitness area, a semi-Olympic indoor swimming pool with a relaxation area with whirlpools, a kindergarten, some shops and boutiques and finally a new one music school which will be inaugurated in 2021.
The Club House was inaugurated in June 2018 and the very strong success of the structure led UPA to design an extension of this: in particular, the extension of one of the petals of the structure was required to accommodate the extension of the fitness room (bringing it over 1800 sqm) and new gym and aerobics rooms for a total of an additional 2,500 sqm. The inauguration is scheduled for 2023.
The complex also has an area dedicated to outdoor sports such as a regular soccer field with related stands and changing rooms (500 sqm) surrounded by an athletics track, tennis courts and a shed for small boats and water sports equipment.
The entire complex is immersed in a park of 180,000 sqm overlooking the sea: in front of the Club beach a special lagoon has been created, between 120 and 150 meters wide, separated from the open sea with a series of strips of land and breakwaters : in the lagoon women are free to swim and sunbathe without the Abaya, the characteristic covering dress of the Persian Gulf region, far from any prying eyes and curious boats.
The Ladies Club represents the best of Made in Italy thanks to the prestigious Italian companies that have contributed to its realization with the excellence of their products. Sanitary ware and finishes were entrusted to: Nobili for taps, Fiandre Architectural Surface for wall decorating surfaces and tiles, Mirage for the tiles, Azzurra Ceramiche's sanitary ware. The lights bear the signature of Guzzini, Targetti and Lamp. The furnishings were curated by Meritalia, DV home collection, MB chairs. The floors of the Entrance Hall and Corridors are in Calacatta Carrara marble.
In addition to landscape areas for festivals and special events and the beach to create special lagoon to maximize the privacy and safety for club members and guests, along with sufficient number of parking.
What was the brief?
The client's request was to have a New Iconic building that had feminine shapes and that could amaze the members of the Ladies Club. It was 2008, a period in which architecture in the Emirates was still very much oriented to amaze and to have something unique.
The new club was to have a main club house with restaurant, cafeteria, senior lounge, fitness area and gym, multifunctional indoor sports field, indoor and outdoor pool, SPA and massage area, Kindergarten, craft rooms, and VIP area with a reception room and some exclusive private areas.
In addition to the Club House, it was required to have other huge buildings in the park such as a 600-seat auditorium together with a 1000-seat ballroom, an art gallery and some villas by the sea for short stays for women only. All immersed in a park with a private lagoon where the diners could be far away immersed in a world of women only for whole days.
The project was built with a reinforced concrete structure cast on site. The two large canopies above the entrance and the Festival Space are in metal and fabric. The facade is entirely covered in stone.
What are the sustainability features?
The project started in 2008, it was subsequently refined with the sustainability requests to have the Estimada certification (the sustainability certification of Abu Dhabi). Sustainability is aimed at saving energy on air conditioning and above all at saving water: the most important thing in the area according to Estimada's orientation.
UPA Italia is an international studio based in Milan specializing in complex architecture with an Italian Design outside the box. The firm operates mainly in partnership with UPA Consultancy in Abu Dhabi. Paolo Lettieri is the Principal Architect.