“Breathing new life into the city.” BoxPark Dubai
Like its counterparts in other cosmopolitan cities BoxPark Dubai has been developed using shipping containers to create a pop-up urban retail and dining destination that has transformed a stretch of Al Wasl Road in Jumeriah. I love BoxPark in Shoreditch, East London and it’s always on my to-do list when I’m home in the summer, so as it was the Easter Holiday’s here I took the teenager and her friend on a road trip to Dubai, to visit this newest outdoor shopping attraction.
Following the popularity of similar urban renewal projects in London, Paris and New York, BoxPark Dubai has been developed by Dubai based Meraas Holdings, the company’s third project in the Emirate after its successful completion of The Beach at JBR and City Walk. The architectural team has combined an array of materials along with the two hundred and twenty brightly coloured metal containers that have been stacked together to create a contemporary design project, resulting in stylist place to hang out, dine and shop that’s ideal for all the family.
Still in its soft opening phase, most of the forty-four outlets are yet to be completed so there isn’t too much to see at the moment. Of the sixteen retail units already opened global brand Nike is trading along with sustainable and charitable footwear company Toms, Norwegian onesie brand OnePiece and a few other independent shops. Finnish brand Marimekko, known for its original bright coloured prints used in their vibrant fashion and homeware collections, is located in a large end unit. It also has its own signature cafe offering a simple, clean and health conscious menu made with seasonal Scandinavian ingredients as well as freshly brewed coffee, house-blended teas, juices, salads and soups.
We popped into probably the coolest stationery shop ever Typo, that has a fantastic range of funky stationery for the home and office, art and craft supplies, party goodies, trendy and fashionable homewares including candles, cushions and accessories, it’s also the perfect place to pick up gifts. The teenager and I found it hard to resist all the well-priced products on display but we managed to contain ourselves and leave with just one luscious smelling candle.
As well as many of the stores not yet trading, dining choices are also limited with only a small selection of the twenty-eight cafes and restaurants already open. I choose the cool and chic looking Italian bistro Bianca – Mozzarella & Co with it’s all white interior, which although quite small is very sophisticated. It has a larger adjacent roofed terrace area which is very quaint with its white-painted vintage bike (I love a vintage bike) and white accessories. The bistro is named after the owner’s grandmother Bianca which coincidently means ‘white‘ in Italian, the colour of milk from which their cheese is made, hence the related colour scheme.
The informal bistro, famous for its buffalo mozzarella and burrata both of which are made in store daily, has a fabulous menu and even though it’s also still in its soft opening phase, both the quality of the food and service were excellent. We had an extremely pleasant al fresco lunch of Italian classics including pasta, caprese and parmigiana and copious amounts of delicious Italian bread with oil and balsamic vinegar. They serve really good coffee too, I throughly recommend it if you are in the Jumeriah area. Good news for capital dwellers too, Bianca is opening a bistro in Abu Dhabi later this year too, inshallah.
Like a lot of things over here the concept is always good but the reality can be somewhat lacking and this is definitely the case at BoxPark at this moment in time. It will improve as more of the containers open their doors but I’m not sure how popular an outdoor shopping and dining venue will be with the UAE’s weather limitations. All the outdoor areas will be closed in the hotter months and even this week sitting outside for lunch was really warm, sticky and to be honest slightly uncomfortable.
Obviously other BoxPark pop-ups also have the added advantage of licensed bars and live entertainment which add to the appeal. This venue does have very modern and clean bathroom facilities, free and valet parking as well as small play-areas to attract families, but again these are not practical in the height of summer. I will definitely be making a return trip later in the year when everything is open and the summer has passed, even if it’s just to enjoy another delicious Italian al fresco lunch on the terrace at Bianca.
Location: Al Wasl Road, Jumeriah
Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: boxparkdubai. Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved. Typo storefront, Bianca menu and BoxPark logo photos used courtesy of the respective owners Facebook pages.