The green planet science museum | dubai, united arab emirates

The Green Planet offers an immersive experience of walking through a South American rainforest without leaving the Arabian Peninsula.  The unique ecology of the neotropics is sustained under a glass biodome, replicating the unique geology and ecology of the world’s rainforests with representative bird and animal species co-existing in a hybrid environment. The biodome and was conceptualized as a living, breathing ecosystem that brings together the experience nature and the science of nature. Functioning as a living classroom, each step forward takes visitors deeper into the tropics and closer to over 3,000 species of exotic plants and animals that live herein The Green Planet biome.


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The central feature of The Green Planet is a life size artificial tree - an Emergent Giant. At 25 meters (82 feet) tall, it is the world’s largest life sustaining tree! On a muti-leveled journey, visitors learn about the unique adaptations of rainforest plants and animals. Visitors first encounter the tree when they enter into the flooded forest level, where they are greeted by a floor to ceiling aquarium full of tropical fish that swim amongst aerial roots of strangler figs. An elevator to the treetop allows visitors to explore birds, butterflies and other canopy dwellers. Exotic plants, like epiphytes and orchids growing from the tree's huge sinuous limbs, surround visitors while they spiral their way down the tree along a path of discovery. For adventurous visitors, a suspension bridge out to the tree's trunk offers a panoramic perspective of the habitat below and eye level views free-flying birds. A water cascade draws the eye to the densely planted forest floor. At ground level, visitors come in contact with the tree's giant buttress roots, and encounter crocodile lizards, tree boas, spiders and colonies of worker ants. Mammals are also well represented; a well cared for sloth emerges periodically under the watchful eye of her caretakers to surprise and greet visitors.

Educational programs aligned with the learning objectives of local schools maximize the guest student's experience and utilize a variety of spaces. The butterfly balcony, flooded forest tunnel, water cascade and pool, tree house, and walk through log all provide hands-on learning opportunities.  All ages can experience close encounters rainforest animals and learn about ecological relationships, processes and conservation at age appropriate levels.

The Emergent Giant artificial tree was a unique design challenge, which allowed us to explore the fusion of art and engineering. The tree's super structure is constructed of 3 steel columns welded together in a self-supporting tripod.  Each limb is a grouping of steel trusses, mechanically fastened to the tree structure.  The structural steel is wrapped with a metal mesh fabric, and sprayed with gunnite to the rough form of the tree, and then textured, carved and finished by local skilled artisans. Studio Hanson-Roberts worked closely with the theming contractor early in construction to ensure the poetic form and texture of the tree to replicate the sinewy trunk and limbs of a kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra) wrapped by a strangler fig (Ficus spp.).  Many of the limbs contain custom designed removable planters, which factor in the structural design for the added weight of soil, water and plants, and insure proper spacing of the trusses for each planter. Proper drainage and hidden irrigation tubes to each planter allows plants to thrive, creating a living, lush environment.

The framework of  the Emergent Giant, under construction

Environmental parameters in The Green Planet were designed specifically to maintain tropical plants and wildlife. The glass roof and walls of the biodome let in natural light and ultraviolet (UV) light for healthy plant growth. UV light is supplemented artificially in areas that receive less ambient light. The tropical climate is created in a desert landscape through a carefully designed cooling and humidifying system. Humidity is set at 70% and temperatures are kept between 25° C/77°F and 28° C/82.4°F - quite cool in Dubai where the average summer temperature is 41°C/106°F. Water is a precious resource in the UAE and water saving measures were designed into the plumbing and water features. An offsite greenhouse was a necessary addition in order maintain tropical plants in the numbers required to ensure healthy growth and turnover. Off exhibit holding rooms allow for keeping of fish, birds and insects behind the scenes.  


opening date: August 2016


  • Grout McTavish  Architects
  • James Peterson Designs
  • Rob Halpern
  • Gallagher & Associates
  • CD+M Lighting Design Group