Mleiha Desert Observatory

Mleiha Desert Observatory

Architect
3deluxe
Location
Sharjah - United Arab Emirates | View Map
Project Year
2019
Category
Cultural Centres

Museums
©3deluxe

Mleiha Desert Observatory

3deluxe as Architects

Observation building for the Mleiha NationalDesert Park in Sharjah

Uncompromising architecture for extreme conditions: In one of the hottest places on Earth, in the middle of Sharjah’s untouched desert, 3deluxe is implementing an expressive building. On the ridge of the Jebel Fayah mountain range, a lookout architecture including an observatory as well as a natural history exhibition are being planned.

 

Approximately one hour’s drive from Sharjah, capital of the Arab Emirate of the same name, a national park with numerous archaeological and scenic attractions is emerging. One the most significant excavation sites with finds from the Bronze Age is located around the settlements of Mleiha. The sustainable tourism project of the public development authority Shurooq also relies on the beauty of the orange and red sand desert and the spectacular night sky. 

 

With their concept for the observatory, 3deluxe is playing with characteristics of the surrounding nature and the building’s function. The observatory pinnacles the highest point of the mountain ridge like a fallen meteorite. Thanks to its exposed location, it is a widely visible landmark. 

 

Complex cubature in sand-coloured concrete

At the same time, the building merges harmonically into the pristine landscape. Its cubature is strongly fragmented; a reference to the jagged rock formations of the mountain chain. The façade’s colour scheme, too, mirrors the surroundings: The pigmented concrete changes in the warm shades of red and brown of the desert sand. The material’s rough surface makes for subtle shadow effects, which lend the largely sealed faces a certain liveliness. Three generous terraces with an overall floor area of 150 m2allow for long distance views in all directions. The highest one is equipped with telescopes for stargazing, since the stars are particularly well visible above the entirely dark desert. 

 

Skylight to the stars

In the building’s interior, the natural history exhibition and the café share a floor area of 165 m2. Seating arrangements set out on several levels offer an unobstructed view of the panoramic windows spanning the entire width of the space, providing a fantastic outlook onto the wide desert plain. Projected data and films overlay the landscape panorama with a digital layer of information. 

 

The observatory’s wood clad interior radiates a natural and calm atmosphere. Especially at night time, it creates the impression of sitting in the open: The dark coloured ceiling is illuminated with countless light dots and together with the large glass pane it merges into a room spanning sky window. During a visit of the Mleiha Meteorite, nature and architecture can be encountered as a coherent whole, increasing each other in their effect. 

 

Following the award winning Noor Island Park opened in 2016, the Mleiha Meteorite is 3deluxe’s second project in Sharjah. It is planned to be completed in 2019.

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