International Design Competition
Project Team: Christina Doumpioti, Pavel Hladik (Project Coordinator), Michael U. Hensel, Defne Sunguroğlu Hensel, Jeffrey Turko with Jordan Whitewood-Neal (Renderings)
The competition scheme organizes the site as an extension of the Al Wathba Wetlands ecosystem, the current reforestation scheme in the area, and a universally accessible landscape that enfolds the interior space of the visitor centre. A sequence of architectural, landscape and microclimatic experiences characterize the scheme: the tree grove, the dune (the dry landscape that extends over the building and its continuation to the south into the wetlands), the sails (the transitional space between sun-sails and climate skin of the building), and the cavern (the darker and cool interior of the building). A shading tree grove on the north-eastern corner of the site is composed of tree species selected for the larger area reforestation plan. From here it is possible to directly enter the building, or to stroll up the landscapes roof of the building to enjoy the view and continue further into the wetland, or to walk along the western elevation of the building, entering from the west. The scheme extends the experience of the landscape onto and across the site and offers spectacular views of the Al Whatba wetland reserve from an elevated position on top of the building. From the northern and southern approach the building presents itself primarily as a landscape. The eastern and western elevations are marked by iconic colonnades of sun-sails, providing a shaded transitional space for enjoying views and refreshments, and that prevent solar penetration of the interior. The interior, the cavern, presents itself as a heavy protective mass that is shielded from thermal impact by the soil roof, the sun-sails, and by the tree stands. The tree stands on the eastern perimeter of the site serve as assembly area for groups that will venture into the wetland reserve. Through minimum amount of spatial division the building can be flexibly used and adapted to different needs, activities and events.