Buhais Geology Park opens in UAE’s Sharjah Desert

January 31, 2020 by  
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British architectural firm  Hopkins Architects has completed the Buhais Geology Park Interpretative Centre, a new research and education facility highlighting the “prehistoric and geological significance” of the former seabed known as al-Madam Plain. Located southeast of the UAE city of Sharjah, the Geology Park was created as part of a series of learning and conservation centers operated by Sharjah’s Environmental Protected Areas Authority. The design of the site-sensitive complex comprises five interconnected pods inspired by prehistoric sea urchin fossils. The Buhais Geology Park Interpretative Center is located within the Jebel Buhais, an archaeological site that’s most notable for its extensive necropolis spanning the Stone, Bronze, Iron, and Hellenistic ages, as well as for its abundance of marine  fossils  from over 65 million years ago. To highlight the archeological importance of Jebel Buhais, the Park was conceived as an important educational resource and destination for tourism.  Taking cues from the region’s well-preserved prehistoric fossils, the architects crafted the Interpretive Center into five interconnected pods that house a series of exhibition spaces with model-based interactive displays as well as an immersive theater, a cafe with panoramic views of the dramatic Jebel Buhais range, a gift shop, and other visitor facilities. An outdoor trail accessible from the main exhibition area links the pods and includes viewing areas of the mountains, a  classroom  shaded by a high-tensile canopy, and raised walkways across select geological sites of note such as ancient burial grounds.  Related: Off-grid Fossil Discovery Exhibit camouflages into the Texan desert “Our first sight of Jebel Buhais was in the late afternoon sun, exploring the area after the midday heat,” Simon Fraser, Principal at Hopkins Architects, said. “It is an amazingly beautiful, barren setting, with the Jebel providing a powerful backdrop. We have ensured that our design  touches lightly  on this fragile landscape, so rich in remarkable fossils and prehistoric burial sites. This exciting new facility will allow thousands of people from all over the world to understand the way in which landscapes are formed by tectonic activities and how the Earth has changed over time.” + Hopkins Architects Images © Marc Goodwin

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Buhais Geology Park opens in UAE’s Sharjah Desert

MVRDV breaks ground on Pixel, a mixed-use development that embraces indoor-outdoor living

August 23, 2019 by  
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MVRDV has started construction on Pixel, a mixed-use development in Abu Dhabi that promotes an innovative building typology very different from the prevalent style of disconnected towers in the United Arab Emirates. Designed to encourage community building and enjoyment of the outdoors, Pixel will comprise seven mid-rise towers of varying heights grouped around a central plaza. The 85,000-square-meter development will be located in Abu Dhabi’s new Makers District and will emphasize the neighborhood’s values of creativity, learning and sharing. Named after the pixelated appearance of the building facades, Pixel will include 525 apartments of varying sizes — ranging from studios to spacious three-bedroom homes — shops, flexible office space suitable for startups and established companies, restaurants and a range of amenities such as a pool, gym, community spaces and a children’s playroom. Related: MVRDV designs a Dutch office building covered in potted plants Staggered building heights have been informed for optimal shade conditions and views. The public plaza at the heart of the development will form part of “The Artery,” a continuous pedestrian public space that cuts through the Maker’s District and connects Pixel to the nearby beach. “The weather in Abu Dhabi is very pleasant for about eight months of the year, yet most housing there doesn’t really encourage people to spend time outside,” said Jacob van Rijs, a founding partner of MVRDV. “With Pixel, we wanted to show that a connection with the outdoors is not only possible in this city, but beneficial.” In addition to the creation of outdoor spaces and connection with neighboring Makers District spaces, the design of the towers encourages social engagement as well. The facades “break down” into balconies and bay windows that face the lively plaza below. Ceramic screens with a shimmering pearlescent finish — a nod to Abu Dhabi’s pearl diving heritage — help create a comfortable outdoor environment. + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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MVRDV breaks ground on Pixel, a mixed-use development that embraces indoor-outdoor living

Zaha Hadid Architects weaves energy-saving tech into an otherworldly UAE landscape

October 12, 2018 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects has revealed designs for the Central Hub, a new leisure and entertainment destination for the United Arab Emirates that looks positively out of this world. Marked by swirling pathways and pod-like buildings, the futuristic Central Hub will serve as the focal point for the $6.5 billion Aljada development in Sharjah, the UAE’s third-most populous city. Spanning an area greater than 25 football fields, the 1.9 million-square-foot Central Hub will be entirely car-free and integrate a variety of energy-saving technologies. With Phase One slated for completion in the end of the first quarter of next year, the Central Hub is expected to be the city’s largest mixed-use lifestyle destination. The first phase spans over 328,000 square feet in size and includes the Aljada Community Center; a food truck village; a children’s play area, outdoor activity zone and skate park; outdoor event space for film screenings, pop-up events and markets; as well as Arada’s experiential sales center. The second and third phases of the Central Hub will be completed in 2020 and 2022, respectively, and include more recreational and retail facilities, such as an 11-screen cinema, extreme sports center and an expansive community park . Much like the Aljada masterplan, which is designed with walkability and sustainable systems in mind, the Central Hub is flush with over 700,000 square feet of public squares and gardens that include natural cooling strategies for year-round enjoyment. Inspired by water droplets, the elliptical buildings will also help channel crosswinds into the public spaces. The grounds will be irrigated with recovered and recycled water and planted with native species. Lighting will be powered entirely by smart solar. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects designs robot-assisted vaulted classrooms for China “ Sustainability is absolutely central to Arada’s vision, and that has been reflected in the Central Hub’s design,” said HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, vice chairman of Arada. “We are working hard to protect and encourage local native species and natural environment. We’re doing this in a way that is cost-efficient and leaves as small an impact on the planet as possible.” + Zaha Hadid Architects Lead image by VA, others by Cosmoscube

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Hyperloop TT plans to build working line in the UAE next year

April 18, 2018 by  
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It’s been a busy week for Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT): they began building a test track in France , and now they’ve just announced the signing of an agreement with Aldar Properties , a Abu Dhabi real estate developer, for what HyperloopTT described as “the first commercial Hyperloop system in the UAE .” Hyperloop plans to start construction next year, with the first section open by 2020. ? Aldar Properties and HyperloopTT signed a memorandum of understanding for a commercial Hyperloop system, including a Hyperloop Visitor Center and HyperloopTT’s XO Square Innovation Center. This agreement will allow the California-based company to start building an around six-mile Hyperloop system. The site is near the border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai , near the Al Maktoum International Airport and the location for Expo 2020 . In fact, HyperloopTT chairman Bibop Gresta said with regulatory support, they aim to have the first Hyperloop section operational in time for the expo. Related: HyperloopTT is building the world’s third Hyperloop test track in France Aldar Properties CEO Talal Al Dhiyebi said in the statement, “We believe that Hyperloop technology can have a major positive impact on the lives of all those living within our communities, and we look forward to this possibility becoming a reality.” HyperloopTT said they would build the Hyperloop system in several phases, and although this agreement covers a six-mile system, they ultimately aim to construct a commercial network throughout the UAE. They said they’ve been working in the country since 2016, and have finished a comprehensive feasibility study, working with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transportation. HyperloopTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn said, “With this historic agreement in Abu Dhabi, we take a big step towards the world’s first commercial system.” This isn’t the first time cities in the United Arab Emirates have shown an interest in Hyperloop technology; in 2016, Hyperloop One (now Virgin Hyperloop One ) signed an agreement with Dubai’s Roads and Transit Authority to evaluate a Hyperloop system in the area. Earlier this year, Virgin Hyperloop One and Dubai’s Roads and Transit Authority unveiled a commuter pod prototype . + Hyperloop Transportation Technologies + Aldar Properties Images via Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

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Hyperloop TT plans to build working line in the UAE next year

This new green-roofed hotel with mirrored walls blends into Uruguay’s mountains

April 18, 2018 by  
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Visitors to Uruguay’s Maldonado region can soon stay in a stunning new hotel, which is tucked into 250 acres of gorgeous natural landscape. The Sacromonte Landscape Hotel  — designed by local firm MAPA Architects — is a green-roofed mountain retreat that uses mirrored exteriors to strategically blend into its surroundings. The sustainable hotel complex, which is comprised of 13 individual cabins, a winery and a farm-to-table restaurant, was completely prefabricated off site to reduce the project’s footprint. MAPA Architects utilized a variety of strategies to enable the Sacromonte Landscape Hotel to blend into the environment. The buildings’ sizes and height were kept subtle as to not disrupt the amazing landscape. The cabins have a mirrored facade on one side that camouflages the buildings into the grassy meadows. The rear side of the cabins feature locally-sourced timber trunks and local stones, creating a rustic look. Related: This modern hiking hotel blends into the dark alpine forests of Italy To keep the project’s footprint at a minimum, the structures were prefabricated off site in 10 weeks in a factory in Montevideo. In fact, the overall design focused on implementing various sustainable construction techniques. In addition to using prefab manufacturing, the structures were built with low-E glass and built on bases made from locally-sourced stone. Eco-friendly wastewater treatment systems were also installed to make the project as green as possible. The eco-resort  just recently opened for business and is expected to be fully operational by September, 2018. Visitors will be able to reserve individual cabins, which come with private decks and circular pools for enjoying the spectacular views. Inside, guests can enjoy the modern design, including dark stone floors and oak-paneled walls. For dining, the hotel restaurant offers dishes made with vegetables and fruits grown onsite in an organic garden. And of course, wine tastings are offered daily. + MAPA Architects + Sacromonte Landscape Hotel Via Dwell Photography by Leonardo Finotti

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This new green-roofed hotel with mirrored walls blends into Uruguay’s mountains

The UAE joins race to build first city on Mars

February 16, 2017 by  
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The race to colonize Mars first is in full swing, with everyone from Mars One to Elon Musk angling for the prize. Now the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced their intention to build Mars’ first city within 100 years. Their plan, called Mars 2117, aims to inspire, and act as a seed for future generations to grow. Mars 2117 was launched on February 14 , on the sideline of World Government Summit in Dubai, where a Mars 2117 virtual reality experience was offered. UAE Prime Minister and vice president Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum announced the plan : “We aspire to great things, so my brother Mohammed bin Zayed and I today decided the UAE will join the global effort to send humans to Mars. Mars 2117 is a seed we are sowing today to reap the fruit of new generations led by a passion for science and advancing human knowledge.” Related: Elon Musk reveals his big plan for colonizing Mars Mars 2117 isn’t just a dream for the UAE. In a statement Al Maktoum said, “The landing of people on other planets has been a longtime dream for humans. Our aim is that the UAE will spearhead international efforts to make this dream a reality.” The UAE government plans to create an international scientific consortium to pursue research for the project. Thus far only the United States has been able to land a craft on Mars – Europe and Russia have both failed. And the UAE just started their space agency in 2014, but they already plan to send a spacecraft, Hope, to orbit the red planet in 2021. Popular Science notes although the country lacks rockets, they have plenty of money and have shown they can move swiftly to achieve large goals, such as transforming Dubai from the pearl-fishing village it was around 40 years ago to the architectural wonder it is today, boasting the world’s tallest structure in the Burj Khalifa . Via International Business Times , Popular Science , and Government of Dubai Media Office Images via Dubai Media Office on Twitter

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Floating ring-shaped memorial celebrates Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai

February 16, 2017 by  
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This ring-shaped memorial dedicated to internationally renowned Kenyan environmental political activist and Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, celebrates human rights and environmental conservation. Boogertman + Partners architects designed the circular form to emphasize the notion of “walks and talks”, solidifying Wangari’s enduring legacy. A long timber-decked route leads visitors over a body of water to the main entrance of the memorial located beneath the structural floating ring. The underside rests on the terrain which envelops an auditorium at the rear. The simple circular form unfolds the life of Wangari as a conversation en route, referencing her legacy and a childhood sense of wonder. Related: Inhabitat talks with NYC’s 9/11 Memorial designer Michael Arad The building houses the main exhibition space , library, conference centre and functional areas. The courtyard , enveloped by the ring, contains an amphitheater , a mausoleum and a subterranean space. + Boogertman + Partners  Via v2com

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Floating ring-shaped memorial celebrates Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai

Villa in Alps mimics the mountains with glimmering arches that provide strategically shifting shade

November 15, 2016 by  
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Villa in Alps is a conceptual design inspired by its namesake snowcapped mountains. Rozhko envisions the architecture project constructed from gleaming aluminum , echoing the icy origins of its inspiration. The arched structure mimics a pavilion of sorts, with spindly supports touching down in various points, using a very small footprint to hold up the undulating canopy of peaks and valleys. Related: Tiny alpine cabin rewards mountaineers who reach its stunning yet wild heights The design is meant to create moving spaces of shade and sun in an outdoor setting, such as a backyard or poolside, adjacent to a central residence. “(Villa in Alps) can make shadow and keep sunny areas for the whole day,” Rozhko said in his design statement, “and each zone is replaced by the previous, during the day when the sun changes its position.” With its smooth, arcing walls and large overall footprint, the mountain-like canopy offers outdoor shade without interfering with the ability to grow sun-loving greenery, evidenced by a lush living green wall included in the renderings. Meanwhile, views from the interior show how the Villa in Alps would offer unique mountain vistas, framed by its own sprawling arches. + Andrii Rozhko Via Yanko Design Images via Andrii Rozhko

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Villa in Alps mimics the mountains with glimmering arches that provide strategically shifting shade

Self-sustaining solar-powered houseboats in Abu Dhabi are cheaper than rent

June 15, 2016 by  
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The entrepreneur realized he could pair his love of boats with a unique niche in the housing market by creating upscale houseboats for those seeking to escape sky-high rental prices. Houseboats, a not-entirely-uncommon housing choice in the Netherlands, translate well to Abu Dhabi’s plentiful waters. “My dream has been to get rid of these ridiculous rents and then live on my boat. If you take that in a more professional way it’s actually very doable,” van Rijn told The National earlier this year. Related: Off-grid UFO home is completely powered by wind, water, and sun Waterlovt builds self-sustaining next-generation houseboats for a luxurious “future-proof” mode of living. Each vessel can produce around 3.5 kilowatts per hour of solar energy , which powers onboard air conditioning, a washing machine, television, and also charges the houseboat’s battery to supply power at night. As such, the high-end houseboats are capable of functioning entirely off the grid. The houseboats come in four different sizes, all variations on a basic design. Each has an entry level with a living room, kitchen, and dining area, as well as a lower level. The two smaller houseboats are designed with bedrooms on the main level, while the larger versions can have as many as four separate bedrooms situated on the lower level. Although houseboat life can be a challenge, requiring careful maintenance and a minimalist lifestyle , van Rijn insists it’s a plus in the long term. “If you’re getting a housing allowance, and after five or 10 years of living in a rented villa you realize that for that money you could have lived on a boat, you’re going to kick yourself,” he said in his interview with The National. It’s no wonder living aboard floating abodes is a growing trend among expats in the UAE. Via Rent a Houseboat Images via Waterlovt

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Self-sustaining solar-powered houseboats in Abu Dhabi are cheaper than rent

Exemplary natural reserve completed in Sharjah replaces a sprawling rubbish dump

March 25, 2016 by  
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