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Flamingo Observation Center in the United Arab Emirates. Award-winning project by students of the Cracow University of Technology

Dobrawa Bies
05 of August '20

Alicja Nowak, Yaroslav Panasevych and Maciej Rodak, students at the Cracow University of Technology, have created a design for a Flamingo Observation Center in the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in the United Arab Emirates. The work received an honorable mention in an international competition entitled. "Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center" organized by the Bee Breeders platform.

The competition task organized by the Bee Breeders Architecture Competition in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency was to design a new visitor center that takes into account the unique landscape of the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. The reserve, located 40 kilometers southeast of Abu Dhabi, is famous for its large population of flamingos.

Centrum obserwacji
flamingów, wejście

The design of the Flamingo Observation Center is based on the spiral path concept

© Alicja Nowak, Yaroslav Panasevych, Maciej Rodak

The participants were to include in the program of the new center: an information center, a café, a terrace, a gift store, a place for displaying specimens, a training center, restrooms and a parking lot. The jury was looking for designs that took into account sustainability and operational qualities. A key consideration was the relationship of the new facility to the reserve's ecosystem. According to the competition organizers' recommendations, the facility should serve both an exhibition and conference function, as well as a vantage point from which to view the vast expanse of the floodplain.

Flamingo Observation Center

The award-winning design of the Flamingo Visitor Center by a team from the Cracow University of Technology is based on the concept of a spiral path, leading visitors from the desert side of the reserve area, through the interior of the building, to the final point of the journey - a two-level viewing terrace (inside and on the roof), opening up to the vast and contrasting with the desert terrain floodplain with a large population of flamingos. By means of a once rising and once falling overhang, the building blends harmoniously with its surroundings, which corresponds to the idea of symbiosis of architecture with the natural habitat of birds.

Przekrój Centrum
Obserwacyjnego Flamingów

The main entrance to the building is lowered relative to the ground

© Alicja Nowak, Yaroslav Panasevych, Maciej Rodak

As the authors say about the work on the project:

The design process was extremely arduous, after all, it might seem that there is nothing easier than creating in an open, undefined space. However, we were keen not to succumb to the temptation to determine the place with a building. After all, it is one thing to create in a metropolis established by man and subordinated to him, and another to enter an intact area subject to the rules of nature. This is what we wanted - to make the building a guest of the reserve, just like the tourists who use it.

Wnętrze Centrum
Obserwacji Flamingów

Inside the building there are, among other things, workshop and escosition rooms

© Alicja Nowak, Yaroslav Panasevych, Maciej Rodak

spiral ramps

The main entrance to the facility is lowered with respect to the ground level, which, according to the authors, is intended to give visitors a "creeping" impression. The building itself is divided into several distinctive parts. A sloping entrance ramp leads to a subtly illuminated entrance hall, from which visitors can walk to the workshop room or exhibition area. This zone, set on a circular plan with a skylight in the ceiling, stands out from the other rooms thanks to the natural glow coming from above. A spiral ramp leads from the main lobby to the upper floor with a café. In the café, guests can relax and enjoy the view of the surrounding nature. However, this is not the end of the route, the ramp leads further up to the climax, which is the roof terrace of the designed building.

Elewacje Centrum
Obserwacji Flamingów

The authors wanted the building to become a "guest of the reserve"

© Alicja Nowak, Yaroslav Panasevych, Maciej Rodak

The project realizes the key assumptions of the competition - it blends into the terrain, while providing convenient observation conditions for the flora and fauna of Al Wathba Wetland Reserve.

In the same competition, the award in the BB Student Award category went to a project by Kinga Gawlik and Piotr Rajewski from the West Pomeranian University of Technology in Szczecin.

compiled by {tag:AuthorAiB}

illustrations courtesy of Alicja Nowak, Yaroslav Panasevych and Maciej Rodak

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