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Ras Al Khor, Natural Resort Center, Dubai

Part 1 Project 2010
Talin Hazber
American University of Sharjah, UAE
This project puts forward the importance of applying equilibrium between the natural and the built environment to satisfy the visitors’ curiosity in discovering the sanctuary and facilitate an exploring experience without interfering with wild life of the flamingos.
The building setting maximizes the visitors’ abilities to interact and interrelate with the surrounding. Since water bodies contour the program, nature is introduced as an element that creates the space. The existing topography of the site informs the fluent shapes of the three parts of the proposed building, and provides cues that create view corridors extending to the natural scenery in the site. Every level of the building lies on a slightly higher elevation, which creates a sinuous roof that connects the three parts and provides a unified outdoor space that echoes the essence of the surrounding. The interconnection of the outdoor and the indoor spaces creates a distinctively different environment that enriches both sides. The building is made up of slopes, with water outlining the landscape. Pathways meander leading to incredible views on site where flamingoes and other types of birds are found. The building has been designed to capture the views of the sanctuary, providing the visitor with a myriad of visual experiences prior to even entering the lobby itself. Along the internal circulation pattern, the proposed project emphasizes the importance of approaching architecture in a more dynamic and interactive way through considering the setting, the internal circulation, the views and the experience in relation to the context. Basically the scheme was developed around the manipulation, blurring and juxtaposition of space and program to create intermediate and ambiguous space that allows informal and unexpected moments for the visitor. The project acts as a landmark, bold in form and aesthetic expression, an architectural experience – revitalizing, as a destination and reinvention of the local community building and landscape which creates a dynamic dialogue between the existing nature and the built space.

Talin Hazber

Talin´s proposal responds to the extreme demands of the site -a bird sanctuary and natural reservation adjacent to some of Dubai’s most densely populated areas- in two fundamental ways. First, by adopting a strategy of binary lines, or conceptual dichotomies, that sketches the negotiation between the proposed architecture and its context. Some of these dichotomies are clearly present in her proposal: the interplay of outdoor and indoor spaces, open and closed spaces or grade-level and observational spaces, to name a few. Secondly, the proposal sets a strong response to the fully natural -and legally off-limits for visitors- character of the sanctuary by embracing the changing quality of the natural elements that define the site and the possibilities of bird watching. The water, highly variable because of its tidal nature, is incorporated into the formal manipulations that ultimately define the project, not as a foreign element but almost as one more of the construction materials chosen for the building; the breeze and the wind, predominant in such a centric site, are wisely channeled to follow the contours of the building and provide natural ventilation at all times; the unforgiving sun, ever present as a fundamental feature in this region, is both used as a source of light, and repelled as an overheating hazard. All this from the parameters of a strictly designed architecture in terms of the lightness and frugality of the proposed construction and structural system and Talin’s determination to respect such a fragile and biodiverse site to its extreme. The visitor’s center, together with a small research unit adjacent to the public areas, becomes in this way a subtle addition that at no time is seeking to be the protagonist, but to integrate seamlessly with the natural context and remain as a permanent addition. This approach is consistent with the frugality of the program and the small scale of the architecture, almost domestic in nature but, at the same time, highly ambitious both conceptually and physically.


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