Architecture & Design

Buhais Geology Park ... comprising five ingeniously-shaped, interconnected pods of varying sizes.

Buhais Geology Park ... comprising five ingeniously-shaped, interconnected pods of varying sizes.

Sharjah geology park design cued by fossils

March 2020

Hopkins Architects, a pioneer British architecture firm, has announced the opening of Buhais Geology Park, which lies 48 km southeast of Sharjah at a site that contains 65-million-year-old fossils, and ancient burial sites from the stone, bronze and iron ages.

It is the latest addition to a suite of learning centres operated by Sharjah’s Environmental Protected Areas Authority which leads conservation efforts in the emirate, manages protected areas and provides exceptional educational experiences.

The Buhais Geology Park Interpretive Centre was officially opened by Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

The geometry of the pods was inspired by the fossilised urchins present on site.

The geometry of the pods was inspired by the fossilised urchins present on site.

Seeking to create a series of exhibition spaces which vividly present the region’s significant geological heritage, Hopkins Architects has designed five ingeniously-shaped, interconnected pods of varying sizes to accommodate exhibition areas, an immersive theatre, a café with panoramic views of the dramatic Jebel Buhais range towering behind the centre, a gift shop and other visitor facilities.

The pods take their design cue from the region’s prehistoric fossils. The geometry of the pods was inspired by the fossilised urchins present on site and developed into a typology which could be sized to suit the centre’s different functions, says the British company.

To minimise disruption to the existing fauna, geology and terrain, the pods were designed as pre-fabricated concrete structures and only lightly touch the ground on in-situ reinforced concrete foundation discs, it states.

The pods are clad in steel panels, coloured to reference the different hues of the surrounding landscape as well as to shade the precast concrete structures. These panels are fixed into an array of steel ribs, giving the pods their distinctive sculptural, cantilevered forms and further referencing the exoskeleton of the urchin fossils, it adds.

The restrained palette of the interior materials complements the pods’ exposed precast concrete shell segments. In some pods, glazing and oculi have been inserted to control natural light into the space, tempering the brightness of the desert sun.

Linking the pods and looping sinuously around the site is an outdoor trail accessed from the main exhibition area. This trail – designed to encourage visitors to explore the jebel (Arabic for mountain) – incorporates viewing areas, a classroom shaded by a high-tensile canopy and raised walkways across natural rock formations and ancient burial grounds.  




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