The Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort is a theme park (including a desert zoo dedicated to preserving Arabian wildlife. The establishment offers standard animal exhibits and tours, but wanted a dedicated space to the history and culture surrounding the Arabian desert. This pedagogical interest led to the creation of the Sheikh Zayed Learning Center (SZLC).
Plans for the Learning Center took into consideration several difficulties, in particular the desert conditions and the need to respect the surrounding ecosystem.
The resulting design is based on curves: no two angles or inclinations are the same on any side, which gives the building a gentle slope and an impression of flexibility. This form means the SZLC follows the contours of the desert and seems to come naturally out of the desert. The Moebius-like design was the result of extensive 3D modeling, sometimes using up to 1:5 real life scale plans, to make sure each slope and curve was not a structural weakness. The MULTIFLEX slabs are thicker than average builds and as such require crossbeams, which in turn reduces the center’s height. A new basement space is being added to compensate.
In spite of its concrete foundations, the SZLC has large, glazed, diamond shaped windows throughout, which keeps the building bright but energy efficient at all times. Solar energy provides for both hot water and an air conditioning system in their entirety. Adding to this, the SZLC gets around the problem of the desertic climate heat by running cooling systems underground, where they remain fresh in spite of the outside high temperature. Even the WC systems are no-flush to conserve water. In an effort to reduce transportation costs, no construction materials are sourced farther than 500 kilometers from Al Ain. To ensure no energy waste is being done and to offer an optimal comfort, 180,000 sensors will be monitoring the building and the traffic inside to adjust the temperature if necessary.
The Sheikh Zayed Learning Center will be the host to many exhibitions on Arab culture, while presenting itself as a sort of art sculpture. Hopefully, it will set the example of combined sustainability and esthetics.
Read here the full reports (sources):
A sustainable construction realised with unique formwork elements
Published by on Ameinfo.com - May 7, 2012
Official Al Ain Website