British Embassy

A new Embassy which opened in 2006 is located in the diplomatic district of Sana’a. The pavilion-style building is set on a sloping site within extensive grounds. The altitude of the site and its location near the base of mountains creates a microclimate; intensely dry but with periodic heavy rainfall in the short rainy season. At night there are low temperatures and the site is exposed to northerly winds. The landscape strategy was defined by the need to create shelter within the site, to lessen the open aspect, to reduce exposure from prevailing winds and to mitigate soil loss. The grounds will be sheltered from the wind and open aspect with a screen of forestry trees and under storey. The shelter belts of selected indigenous forest plants require low levels of water once established. The planting is zone-based, those requiring more watering close to the building, drought tolerant species around the perimeter. The masterplan takes full advantage of the slope across the site to create separate ground-floor access to each floor. The public spaces within the embassy grounds have open views. The private areas are set within walled terraces and individual enclosed gardens. At the outset the concept for the Embassy grounds was to be a showcase the excellence of British design and an interpretation of the traditional design principals of Moorish / Islamic Gardens that are centuries old and often considered as an origin for the design of gardens. The site was planned in accordance with the theme of the Paradise Garden giving four distinct character zones of varying levels, privacy and shelter. The garden designs innovatively interpret the traditional Yemeni garden as a series of terraced gardens enclosed by mud walls. Extensive research was undertaken in conjunction with the General Department of Forestry and Desertification Control for the choice of indigenous forest trees and with the Yemeni Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation for the appropriate types of fruit trees suitable for the Sana’a region. An on-site nursery was established to grow on all the plants for the project with native planting sourced from locally gathered seeds and cuttings.


25 photos and 5 drawings

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