Fossil-shaped buildings showcase geology in the Arabian desert
The recently-completed Buhais Geology Park is quite unusual but takes its place well among the rugged desert landscape in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The project is inspired by fossils that are present on the site and is designed to resemble fossilized sea urchins.
The Buhais Geology Park was designed by UK firm Hopkins Architects and is situated on the al-Madam Plain, a former sea bed. The site boasts marine fossils that are over 65 million years old, as well as ancient burial sites from the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age.
The project consists of five main pod-shaped buildings, plus an extra pod that's used as an additional service building. They are of varying size and are finished in steel panels which are arranged to give them their distinctive look.
"The geometry of the pods was inspired by the fossilized urchins present on site and developed into a typology which could be sized to suit the Centre's different functions," says Hopkins Architects. "To minimize 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."
The Buhais Geology Park's interior features exhibition areas highlighting the region's interesting geology. There's also a theater and a cafe offering choice views. Visitors can examine local rocks and fossils, and a series of interactive displays depict the area's tectonic history, such as the disappearance of an earlier ocean and the creation of limestone mountain ranges.
The park is linked to a walking trail that encourages visitors to explore the nearby mountains and viewing areas, plus natural rock formations, ancient burial grounds, and other attractions.
The Buhais Geology Park was commissioned by Sharjah's Environment and Protected Areas Authority. Another nearby project by Hopkins Architects is also planned for completion in 2020 called the Al Qurum Mangroves & Turtles Interpretive Centre.
Source: Hopkins Architects