AlZorah Coastal Institute

Layan Hashem
American University of Sharjah, College of Architecture, art and Design, Sharjah
Saúdská Arábie

Project idea

The AlZorah Coastal Institute is a project that raises awareness to the general public about the protected wetlands, coastal ecosystems, and marine life of Ajman. Conceptually, the project was derived from two existing shells that were found on site. The initial idea was to physicalize these shells and allow them to contain research facilities, as well as public observatories and programs within. In order to relate to the urban context, the shell mimicked the nature of the fishnet or gargoor, which is essentially a dome-shaped fishing net that reflects the ancestral heritage of the UAE. From that, the notion of architecture as a micro-city preserving the past, present, and future of Emirati tradition occurred.

Project description

The Institute supports research and public education on the crucial role of coastal ecosystems in the health of marine and terrestrial environments. Primarily, the intention was to foster and encourage collaboration between scientists, government officials and designers in the United Arab Emirates to address issues that affect the health, sustainability and resilience of their respective coastal environment. Since the project is situated on the extreme edge of the site, where the three conspicuous landscape entities interact (land, water and mangroves), the ultimate objective was to establish a union with nature; creating dynamic shifts in perception. Thus, the notion of creating a micro-city that encompasses a geometry with intimate terraces occurred. The coastal infrastructure's program is inclusive of both private and public functions, where the private is meant to house up to 50 scientists and engineers. Furthermore, the public spaces include a lobby and reception, exhibit space, cafe with both indoor and outdoor seating, and large lecture halls. Whereas the private functions include offices, wet labs and conference rooms. Since Ajman experiences extreme rises in temperature in the later half of the year, I chose to address the climate by introducing the idea of a shell-like structure that provides shading to the terraces within. Finally, each terrace provided framed views towards the three landscape entities.

Technical information

Conceptually and physically, the project comprises of two drastically different structures. The stereotomic volumes and the tectonic shell that encapsulates them. The volumes are essentially made up of loadbearing walls, and a rudimentary column and beam structure. On the other hand, the shell's structure is more intricate and complex. The primary structure consists of bended steel beams, and is supported by secondary and tertiary beams moving in a perpendicular direction. As for the secondary elements, it is made up of a tenso support structure and compression members. Finally, the shading system is composed of a series of HMPE braided ropes whose density is a consequence of wind strength and sun direction.


Instructed by Professor Cristiano Luchetti

Copyright © 2023 INSPIRELI | All rights reserved. Use of this website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and use of cookies.