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Yas Waterworld – From heritage to high thrills

An additional element to the Yas Island development in Abu Dhabi has completed. Designed by Atkins, As designers and theme leaders on the award-winning park, Atkins was involved in all aspects of the project, from concept design to detailed architectural design, from MEP engineering to sustainability consultancy. Spreading across more than 11 hectares, Yas Waterworld features 43 rides, slides and attractions set among caves, mountains, rivers and beaches, including four unique ‘world’s first’ rides and activities never before seen in a water park.

Yas-Waterworld-By-Atkins-01-Atkins-759x522 Yas Waterworld / Atkins

© Atkins

Design features:

  • Covering 11 hectares, the waterpark has 43 rides and attractions. It has the capacity to host 7,000 visitors. Yas Waterworld is an integral part of Yas Island’s entertainment portfolio. The development involves interactive rollercoasters.
  • Atkins was commissioned to plan and design the project, with a key remit to maximise sustainable design standards throughout the park in order to achieve an Estidama Pearl One sustainability rating. The design of the project will reduce energy use and water consumption through the use of advanced technology.
  • The many rides and complicated special effects required sophisticated MEP design as the 55.2km of pipework and 20.2km of cabling had to be located almost entirely underground to prevent interference with rides and the visitors’ enjoyment of the park.
  • 1.2 million kilograms of steel used to build the pearl crag
  • 5.6 million litres water turnover per hour
  • 50,000m² rockwork throughout the park
  • More rides, slides and attractions than any other park in the Middle East
  • First waterpark in the Middle East (perhaps the world) to be certified with a “green” sustainability rating (Estidama One Pearl)
  • The most energy efficient waterpark in the world
  • The project won a Leading Edge award from the World Waterpark Association (WWA) in 2012 and Overall GCC Project of the Year at the MEP Awards 2012.
Yas-Waterworld-By-Atkins-06-Atkins-759x506 Yas Waterworld / Atkins

© Atkins

Yas Island is home to the new Yas Marina F1 circuit, and the water park is one of a suite of theme parks which is developing around it. The 22-hectare water park will feature over 30 rides, and slides including a one-of-a-kind attraction that has never been seen before in a water park. It will be the world’s most sustainable water park, having achieved Estidama’s 1 Pearl Building Design Rating.

The Atkins-designed Yas Waterworld on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi is now open to the public, setting a new benchmark in aqua park design. It marks an evolution from a purely water-based park to an adventure attraction complete with interactive rollercoasters. The waterpark covers 11 hectares, has 43 rides and attractions and has the capacity to host 7,000 visitors. Yas Waterworld is an integral part of Yas Island’s entertainment portfolio and is the newest tourism beacon for Abu Dhabi, drawing regional and international crowds.

Yas-Waterworld-By-Atkins-08-Atkins Yas Waterworld / Atkins

© Atkins

Atkins’ design director Tom Wright, who led the architecture team, said: “We were asked by the client to create the best aqua park in the world with an Arabian fantasy theme. We drew together a multidisciplinary design team that harnessed our local knowledge, our international experience and a bunch of out-of-the-box creative thinkers. The result speaks for itself, with two major design awards under its belt already.”

Tom Wright, Atkins’ design director, recalls: “We were asked by the client to create the best aqua park in the world with an Arabian fantasy theme. We drew together a multidisciplinary design team that harnessed together our local knowledge, our international experience and a bunch of out-of-the-box creative thinkers. The result speaks for itself, with two major design awards under its belt already.

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© Atkins

Having previously worked as designers on the Wild Wadi Water Park in Dubai, Atkins was commissioned to plan and design the project, with a key remit to maximise sustainable design standards throughout the park in order to achieve an Estidama Pearl One sustainability rating. By pairing advanced technology with exceptional planning and engineering, our design reduces energy use and water consumption.

Atkins’ work involved the collaboration of around 30-40 engineers and environmental consultants with multiple skill sets from our offices in the UK and UAE. Attention to every detail was made to ensure that Emirati heritage was adhered to, at the same time as maximising the element of fun. A key objective was to remain honest to the architecture while introducing light-hearted elements of over-sized structures and colour.

Yas-Waterworld-By-Atkins-22-flickr-keithjeremy-759x569 Yas Waterworld / Atkins

© flickr-keithjeremy

The technical challenges of creating the waterpark were demanding. The many rides and complicated special effects required sophisticated bespoke MEP design as the 55.2 km of pipework and 20.2 km of cabling had to be located almost entirely underground to prevent interference with rides and the visitors’ enjoyment of the park.

Yas Waterworld has already won two industry awards: at the World Waterpark Association (WWA) symposium in 2012, Atkins’ innovative design won a Leading Edge Award for its architectural ingenuity, theming and original storyline, while in November 2012 Atkins’ MEP work on the project scooped the Overall Project of the Year at the Middle East MEP Awards.

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© flickr-Sarah_Ackerman

The theme design:

Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi is set on 15 hectares at the centre of Yas Island’s exciting entertainment complex and features 43 rides, slides and attractions set in a legendary world that evokes Abu Dhabi’s history and heritage through an original story-theme – “The Legend of the Lost Pearl“.

Visitors follow the original story of ‘Dana’, a young Emirati girl, on a quest for the legendary pearl that had once brought prosperity to her village. The fun story is brought to life throughout the waterpark in many ways, from the colourful characters that greet visitors on their entry to the rides, slides and attractions themselves that that are all iconic extensions of the story characters and their personalities. Even the restaurants at the Park, such as Dana’s Diner and Chubby’s Kitchen, celebrate the legend through their story-based themes.

Yas-Waterworld-By-Atkins-33-Atkins Yas Waterworld / Atkins

© Atkins

“The visitor is transported to another world the second he enters the waterpark,” said Mike Oswald, Park General Manager. “The panoramic layout of the park that greets you as you pass through the traditional souq, the authentic architectural structures such as the Marah Fortress and Bandit Fortress that bring to life the spirit of exotic Arabia, the diversity of the rides – the entire effect is unlike anything currently available in a waterpark in this part of the world. Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi is a truly world-class entertainment attraction brought to life in a uniquely Emirati way.”

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© flickr-Sarah_Ackerman

The Park’s two interactive attractions – PearlMasters and Hairat Yas take the guests a step further, making them a part of the action.

The unique PearlMasters adventure is the very first treasure-hunt style interactive adventure game to make an appearance in a waterpark. The game allows prospective PearlMasters to go on quests in search of lost treasures, interact with magical sea creatures, fire water cannons, solve ancient puzzles, and more. There are nearly 70 uniquely themed Quest Items dotted around the park that form a part of the PearlMasters route. More than half of these are large-scale sculptures, such as treasure chests, giant oysters, or magical sea creatures that stand alone as works of art and have built-in surprise elements, which are revealed to players who successfully decipher the clues.

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© flickr-Sarah_Ackerman

“The PearlMasters adventure is a first for a waterpark anywhere in the world and is one of our star attractions. With new clues to decipher, increasingly challenging levels and exciting surprises in store each time the game is played, PearlMasters feeds visitors’ competitive spirit in a really fun way,” said Oswald.

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© public domain

Hairat Yas – is where a live interactive pearl diving show allows guests to learn more about an occupation that forms an integral part of the UAE’s history. Divers head underwater for up to 2 minutes at a time with no oxygen tanks to gather a handful of oysters for the guests to choose from. Guests then watch the entire process of having the oyster opened, the pearl revealed and cleaned and finally have it set into a customized piece of jewelry that they can purchase as a one-of-a-kind souvenir.

The Emirati adventure continues with the Park’s exciting series of rides and slides – including Falcon’s Falaj which descends from the top of a giant falcon’s nest; Hamlool’s Humps and Jebel Drop – both extreme body slides that plunge through rock crags; and Liwa Loop – the only looping waterslide in the Middle East with a retractable platform that drops out from beneath your feet to unleash high octane thrills.

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© flickr-Sarah_Ackerman

Speeding over all the excitement, guests on the Bandit Bomber – a 550-metre interactive suspended coaster – shoot jets of water at targets, drop water bombs and trigger special effects while coasting under waterfalls and through rock crags all around the waterpark, offering many reasons to ride it over and over again.

Those seeking to prolong the adrenaline high can take a spin on Slither’s Slides – a series of six different slides where they encounter Slither and his serpent friends through themed interactive sculptures that spray water, LED light effects and 3D videos displayed on sheets of thin water in a thrilling rattler water-tunnel ride offering 30 distinct experiences.

Yas-Waterworld-By-Atkins-42-public Yas Waterworld / Atkins

© public domain

Atkins:

Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi heralds a triumph of innovation in design for Atkins. The first water park of its kind, it has evolved from a purely water-based park to an adventure attraction complete with interactive rollercoasters. As designers and theme leaders on the park, Atkins’ architects and engineers from the UK and Middle East will be celebrating their contribution when it opens in January 2013.

Yas Island – Abu Dhabi’s leisure island – already comprises the Formula 1 Yas Marina Circuit, Ferrari World and Yas Links golf course supported by five hotels and serviced apartments. The award-winning Yas Waterworld is an integral part of Yas Island’s entertainment portfolio and is the newest tourism beacon for Abu Dhabi, drawing regional and international crowds.

Having previously worked as designers on the Wild Wadi Aqua Park in Dubai, Atkins was commissioned to plan and design the project, with a key remit to maximise sustainable design standards throughout the park in order to achieve an Estidama Pearl One sustainability rating. By pairing advanced technology with exceptional planning and engineering, our design reduces energy use and water consumption.

Yas-Waterworld-By-Atkins-50-Atkins-759x506 Yas Waterworld / Atkins

© Atkins

TRADITIONAL MEETS MODERN:

Devised and developed by the Atkins design team led by Tom Wright, the story represents the culture of modern Abu Dhabi, while paying tribute to Emirati culture and the country’s pearl diving heritage. The use of traditional architecture and theming celebrates Middle Eastern heritage and history and conjures a feel of old Arabia. It follows the adventures of Dana, a young Emirati girl in search of a legendary lost pearl which would return prosperity and fortune to the people of her fishing village. Along her journey Dana is joined by a cast of characters inspired by our architects’ original concept – from evil bandits to kind-hearted dolphins.

Spreading across more than 11 hectares, the park features 43 rides, slides and attractions set among caves, mountains, rivers and beaches, including four unique ‘world’s first’ rides and activities never before seen in a water park.

Yas-Waterworld-By-Atkins-56-flickr-keithjeremy-759x569 Yas Waterworld / Atkins

© flickr-keithjeremy

KNITTING SPAGHETTI:

Like elegant filigree jewellery, Yas Waterworld is crafted from bespoke elements. But the task of designing, drawing and specifying so many unique elements to create this incredible stage-set was a huge challenge.

The Pearl Crag mountain alone is one of the most intricate of designs. The whole concept for the team was akin to knitting spaghetti, with rides, slides and scenery intersecting with pedestrian walkways and bridges. All of the rockwork and the 1.2 million km of supporting steelwork were modelled in 3D (as was the entire park) and then interwoven with the coaster paths diving around shards of rock, over bridges and through caves. Careful attention was paid to the accessibility of ride platforms to address guest safety, headroom issues and unnecessary queue lengths, and to maintain magnificent views across the site.

The technical challenges of creating the water park were demanding. At any given time, this involved the collaboration of around 30-40 engineers and environmental consultants with multiple skill sets from our offices in the UK and UAE. Attention to every detail was made to ensure that Emirati heritage was adhered to but to also maintain the element of fun. It was important to remain honest to the architecture while introducing light-hearted elements of over-sized structures and colour.

Yas-Waterworld-By-Atkins-57-public-759x508 Yas Waterworld / Atkins

© public domain

AWARD-WINNING DESIGN:

Before it even opened, Yas Waterworld won two industry awards. At the World Waterpark Association (WWA) symposium in 2012, Atkins’ innovative design on Yas Waterworld won a Leading Edge Award in recognition of those who brought the project to fruition and demonstrated industry leadership and innovation. Judges highlighted Atkins for its design work and were impressed with the architectural ingenuity, theming and original storyline.

Meanwhile, our MEP work on Yas Waterworld scooped the Middle East Project of the Year 2012 at the prestigious MEP Awards, Middle East. The park required sophisticated and intelligent bespoke MEP design. MEP had to be located almost entirely underground to prevent almost 55.2km of pipework and 20.2km of cabling from interfering with rides, and to ensure that no services were visible to guests. Atkins worked in close collaboration with the sub-consultant to deliver cutting-edge aquatic systems process design as part of a fully integrated water park design team.

“Yas Waterworld is the next evolution,” says Kevin Johnson, Atkins’ technical manager. “It really is the first hybrid waterpark uniting an exceptional waterpark experience with an interactive rollercoaster traditionally associated with theme parks and then adding interactive gaming throughout the park. For me, it’s all about the guest experience, not just on the amazing rides but at every turn on their journey around the park they will experience incredible theming and spectacular views.”

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© Yas Waterworld

Attractions:

1.Bubble’s Barrel – Thrill Level: High, Shows

  • One of only two FlowBarrel 10 Double in the world and the first in a waterpark that packs awesome power for maximum fun
  • Largest FlowBarrel in the Middle East with a 3 high wave
  • Middle East’s largest surfable sheet wave for Flowboards and Bodyboards
  • An absolute rush for the participants – our instructors will get you barreled in no time!
  • An exhilarating experience for spectators as our pro athletes defy gravity and logic with their entertaining antics

2.Bandit Bomber – Thrill Level: Mild

  • Longest suspended rollercoaster in the Middle East, 550 metres long
  • First rollercoaster in the world to incorporate on-board water and laser special effects
  • Only water rollercoaster in the Middle East
  • Maximum speed 55 km/h
  • On-seat laser guns, on-seat water drop and ground based water cannons

3.Qaryat Al Jewana and Pearlmaster’s Quest – Thrill Level: Chill / interactive

  • Located at the entrance of the park, the village of Qaryat Al Jewana is home to several retail outlets, changing and locker facilities and is also the headquarters of the unique Pearlmaster’s Quest interactive game. This amazing attraction will be the only SplashQuest interactive game in the region. Using special RFID technology, Pearlmaster’s Quest will take you on an interactive treasure hunt around Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi.

4.Slither’s Slides – Thrill Level: High

  • World’s first “Rattler” waterslide
  • Slither’s Slides is a maze of slides and tunnels with plenty of twists and turns amidst spectacular special effects! At the end of each slide is a giant snakehead that visitors travel through directly into a splash pool.

5.Liwa Loop – Thrill Level: High

  • First and only looping waterslide in the Middle East
  • Retractable platform moves from beneath your feet to unleash the thrills
  • High-octane waterslide for visitors who love speed and excitement

6.Dawwama – Thrill level: High

  • World’s first and largest hydromagnetic-powered 6-person waterslide
  • World’s longest Tornado ride, 238 metres long
  • Experience the power and thrill of big air when you and five riders ride the walls of Dawwama’s 20m high funnel

7.Falcon’s Falaj – Thrill Level: High

  • Phenomenal 6-person raft ride
  • Bring friends and family along to enjoy the adrenaline together
  • Longest Mammoth Water Coaster ride in the Middle East, 300 metres long

8.Hoyamal – Thrill Level: Chill, Young Fun, Shows

  • World’s first waterpark pearl-diving attraction
  • Features a specially developed show in English and Arabic
  • Visitors will interact with divers to pick oysters from our unique tank, it will then be opened and the pearl found inside set into a necklace, bracelet or keychain as a personalised souvenir
Yas-Waterworld-By-Atkins-62-public-759x506 Yas Waterworld / Atkins

© public domain

Project Data:

Project name: Yas Waterworld
Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Coordinates: 24.486914, 54.600268
Type: Amusement park / Water park
Site Area: 15 hectares
Opening Date: 20 January 2013
Status: Completed
Completion Year: 2013
Visit Yas Waterworld’s website: here

Awards:

  • 2012 – World Waterpark Association (WWA) Awards – Leading Edge Award – Winner
  • 2012 – Middle East MEP Awards – Category: Overall GCC Project of the Year – Shortlist

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: ALDAR Properties
Architects: Atkins – Woodcote Grove, Ashley Road, KT18 5BW, Epsom, United Kingdom
Operator: arah Leisure Parks Management L.L.C.
Text Description: © Courtesy of Atkins, Yas Waterworld, ameinfo
Images: © Atkins, Beno Saradzic, Yas Waterworld, flickr-keithjeremy, flickr-Sarah_Ackerman

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Yas Waterworld / Atkins
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