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Anna Jaruga-Rozdolska - "Research center in Wadi Rum, Jordan".

31 of December '20
Technical data
Type: master's thesis
Year of defense: 2019
Author: Anna Jaruga-Rozdolska
Faculty of Construction, Architecture and Environmental Engineering of the Technical University of Lodz

Dr. Tomasz Krotowski

Astronomy and architecture are inextricably linked sciences. Ancient civilizations left buildings, artifacts, for observing the sky, indicating early connections between the two fields. A feature of the architecture accompanying astronomy remains monumentalism determined by the pursuit of maximum precision, achieved by the increasing scale of measuring instruments.

 Ośrodek badawczy
w Wadi Rum Jordanii

A research center in Wadi Rum, Jordan

© Anna Jaruga-Rozdolska

Initially, large-scale devices for observing the sky, based mainly on measuring the apparent movements and positions of stars and planets, were megalithic structures like Stonehenge. During the Middle Ages, astronomy developed most rapidly in the Middle East - it was here that the first precision instruments, such as the quadrant and sextant, were invented. Another major breakthrough came in the early 17th century with the telescope - a device that revolutionized the world of astronomy. However, the scale of the device continued to have a significant impact on the precision of research, with telescopes overcoming further technological barriers to increase in size. Today, thanks to the replacement of monolithic mirrors with mosaic ones, the mirrors of telescopes reach diameters of more than thirty meters. The scale of the architecture matches that of the telescopes: the trusses that are the structure of the domes of the observatories are optimized through the use of parametric design, so that they easily follow the increasing size of the apparatuses that are their equipment.

Rzut ośrodka
badawczego w Jordanii

based on a simple composition, the projection is contrasted by two circles of domes inscribed in square halls

© Anna Jaruga-Rozdolska

The Wadi Rum desert in Jordan was chosen as the location for the projected research unit. This was determined by favorable weather conditions (the cloudless period in the area is three hundred days a year), a long tradition of sky observation in the Middle East, and the unique natural landscape of the Wadi Rum valley.

The challenge was to plan a large-scale, strong in expression building in a setting where the undeniable beauty of the landscape stands in opposition to monumental forms. The designed building was to become a detail enriching the landscape, not its dominant feature.

The modernists' famous phrase "form follows function" was redefined: "substraction follows function." Until now, every design decision made on a two-dimensional plan had its consequences in three dimensions. Shaping an object whose mass is hidden in the terrain, contained in underground floors that do not affect the perception of the object in space, allows greater freedom, but also shows the limitations of habit and a certain design routine.

Wnętrza Ośrodka
Badawczego w Jordanii

The center also has room for a restaurant, a co-working area and hotel rooms

© Anna Jaruga-Rozdolska

The Wadi Rum research center complex includes two buildings connected to each other by an underground and above-ground pedestrian route. The functional program of the main underground research and scientific building provides for two astronomical observatories, laboratory facilities, a technology hall with storage facilities, administrative and office rooms, conference and teaching rooms, a co-working area and a residential module for the center's employees. The second building with a hotel and recreational function is carved into the natural rock formation, and the functional program calls for the realization of hotel rooms for guests and investors, a reception area with a foyer and a restaurant overlooking the observatory complex. The designed functional layout of the research center was inspired by the way space stations function, where successive functional modules are connected to the main module that forms the core of communication.

Rzut poziomu +1
ośrodka Rzut kondygnacji podziemnej

The research center building is planned to be underground

© Anna Jaruga-Rozdolska

The research center building is planned as underground - above the ground there are only two domes hiding the telescopes. The irregular, free-form plan follows the designed function. The main entrance leads through a patio that illuminates the reception hall. Office and administrative spaces and rooms of the residential unit light up the subsequent patios.

Vertical and horizontal lines of escape ramps organize the massing. A composition of domes and recesses forms the fifth elevation of the building, visible from the windows of the hotel complex. Based on a simple composition, the projection is contrasted by two circles of domes inscribed in square halls. The form of the hotel building is hidden in the massive rock wall. The single-story building has only one front elevation. The smooth lines contrast interestingly with the rough texture of the natural stone. The structure of the facade is built up by architectural concrete colored in the mass and glazing with noble division.

Inspired by the aesthetic expression of Petra's architecture maintained in the tones of the surrounding landscape, mass-colored concrete was chosen as the leading material in a shade close to the color of natural rocks. The exception, for technical reasons, is the material of the facades of the observatory's domes - they are clearly an alien element of the landscape.


Illustrations: © Author

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