The wild life Sanctuary, Ras al Khor, is a very sensitive site in Dubai. Designinga building here required an intensive research into various aspects of thesite. As a group we analyzed studied aspects as flora and fauna, climate,vegetation, and Bird migration. I was assigned to observe migration patterns,sequences, and tricks used by birds during migration. In the course of my research,I was intrigued by a unique style technique that birds used in flights: Thermalsoaring. This technique allows birds to lift themselves into the sky with thehelp of heated air, which gradually cools off granting birds a free glidetowards the earth.
I was so intrigued by thermal soaring that I decided to use it as the startingconcept for the project. Hence, I created a circulation sequence that wouldsimulate thermal soaring. Seeing as it would be visitor/ research center, I was convinced that the building should have spaces, which would allow visitors to“experience” the site. “Experience” would entail a connection between the siteand visitors through feeling, sight, smell, and taste. There were threeproposals for integrating the building with the site:
1.Useof light in terms of transparency and openings in roofs;
2.Intersect the building with the site.
3.Bringing in elements from the site into the built space.
The most important space in the building was a wet lab. Here scientists would beable to monitor activities below and above ground level in addition to observing conditions under water. The lab would act as a machine on which all activities would revolve, thus, visitors are given a glimpse of what researchwas being carried out on the site.
Initially,I had proposed that the building would have an underwater watching space asidefrom the bird watch, thus showing the visitors more aspects of the site thanjust birds. In addition, by inserting the building into the water, established a more powerful connection between the building and the site. This presented me with an opportunity to building programs with tidal movements.
My search towards integrating the building with the site continued as I explored possible ways on connecting visitors with the site. Eventually, I decided to create moments in certain spaces when the roof would morph into facades. Inaddition, these would transform into decks for people to stand on the site. The proposal was problematic: it hindered the chance to integrate the building withthe site’s tidal movements.
In the final phase of the project, I created a system, which would admit waterfrom the site at certain times in a day. In addition, I designed long slits above the walls: these would let in thin slivers of light. Consequentially, the light would bounce off the water and create a ripple effect on the walls. Inaddition, the building was no longer inserted into the water; rather, it sits on a system of withdrawn stilts, which make the building appear as though it floats on water from a distance. Furthermore, the threshold was enhancedthrough the use of acoustics. This can be observed when water flows against the floor slabs during the highest tide: visitors will be able to hear the flow of water. The final piece of the threshold came with the idea of using the greenroof, which attracts birds for scientific research. Although they are inaccessible to the public, sounds heard from the ceiling further emphasize the threshold effect thus making visitors experience the site.