Marsa Plaza, Oman
The recent expansion of Muscat, the capital of Oman, along the coastline has seen the creation of a new port, marina and its multipurpose Marsa Plaza. London-based architects Acme won an international competition to create the latter – a 5,000-sq-m space, completed in 2018. The plaza is bounded on two sides by medium and low-rise buildings, and overlooks the marina and sea. It features fountains and an amphitheatre used for concerts and movie nights, and hosts food markets and art exhibitions. “The new buildings’ footprint was restricted to maximise the outdoor area,” says Duarte Lobo Antunes, one of the project’s architects.
“Oman has a very laid-back culture and is a popular holiday destination in the Middle East,” continues Lobo Antunes. “In Muscat people usually socialise in the evenings, particularly from May to September when, during the day, they avoid places without shade.”
The square’s buildings feature latticework and projecting canopies made of a stone called desert rose in neutral tones, from cream to brown, that provide varying degrees of shade as well as glimpses of the sea. Steps lead towards the marina, adding to a feeling of limitless space. The square’s graphic lines nod to patterns traditionally found on floors in Oman. “The square reflects the informality of Muscat. It’s a place where people can meander and gather in different spots,” adds Lobo Antunes.