Water as narrative

Responsible for all aspects of the interior design of the property across the majority of the building’s hotel footprint, G.A was tasked with creating a seamless and compelling narrative that could resolve numberless planning, design and technical challenges. G.A crafted a design narrative centred on the notion of water and water-based moments throughout the property, rather than the ocean, as can be found at Atlantis, The Palm.

The original design brief was inspired by the oldest inhabitants of the Arabian desert, the Bedouins. Known for their resourcefulness and hospitality, the tribes would traverse thousands of miles across the sand dunes using water wells, which were the lifeblood of the desert, to navigate. The precious commodity of water is constantly celebrated throughout the property, with water features, sculptures and moments peppered throughout to guide guests on their discovery of the resort.

The connection to water is made through a series of water fountains along the resorts main axis that guide visitors from its entry to their climactic finale, the Horizon and Skyblaze feature. Collectively, the combination of water and fire together in so many features in one location is something never done before anywhere else in the world.

'Droplets' sculpture

The narrative of water is apparent as soon as you enter the hotel, starting in the lobby with the focal piece of artwork ‘Droplets’ – designed and envisioned by G.A as a stunning, focal point in the lobby. At 11.5 metres tall and consisting of 5.5 tonnes of stainless steel, Droplets represents the first cool drops of rain in a dry desert, a nod to the value and beauty of water in a dry region. Droplets gives life to the resort, as the onset of the rainy season does to an arid landscape. Droplets also provides a centralised visual representation of the water that can be heard throughout the lobby via various trickling pools and the cascading waterfalls of the Deluge elevators. Intrinsic to the welcome experience, Droplets also signifies to guests upon entry that this is the first of many water features and fountains found throughout Atlantis The Royal.

Starting out as a small model, Droplets was first printed in 3D at one meter high before each piece was individually handcrafted. Each Droplet started out as a flat sheet of stainless steel before being hand-formed into each drop’s current smooth shape – a timely and laborious process. Held together by a stainless steel ‘tree’, each Droplet was individually attached to the tree within the lobby via a crane, resulting in a ‘stacked’ look and feel. Quite an engineering feat considering the weight of each drop and the size of the artwork. From start to finish, Droplets took one year to create and install.

Jellyfish aquariums

Atlantis The Royal’s jellyfish aquarium is one of the biggest in the world and can be found in Resonance bar by Heston Blumenthal. At seven metres deep and holding 63,000 litres of water, the aquarium is home to 4,000 Moon jellyfish (Aurelia Aurita) that have been bred at Atlantis, The Palm by a specialist team of aquarists within the resorts’ fish husbandry centre. One unique aspect of the jellyfish aquarium is its kreisel (cylindrical) shape and flow. This ensures the jellyfish are suspended weightlessly in the middle of aquarium and do not touch the sides.

Atlantis The Royal’s three fish aquariums can be found in the main lobby of the resort. Home to 7,200 marine animals and 32 species, guests can see a vast variety of tropical fish, including purple tangs, lookdown fish and surgeon fish. Designed as an artistic interpretation of natural life in the middle of the desert, the three lobby aquariums at Atlantis The Royal are very much the differentiating factor between the lobbies of both resorts. The aquariums are designed to use unique LED screen technology to create a dynamic light play between the resident fish and silhouettes to create constant movement of schooling fish and dappled sunlight.

The creation of these aquariums from conceptualisation and visualisation, detailed design and installation, required thousands of hours of painstaking attention and co-ordination by G.A, working closely with a number of partners both virtually and on-site over a number of years.