ABU DHABI FLAMINGO VISITOR CENTER

Petrjanda/brainwork won an international architecture competition for the Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center in the protected area of the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. The main idea was to connect the center with the reserve’s nature at all levels of the project, blending the building into the landscape. Petrjanda/brainwork‘s approach is based on interconnecting physical and metaphysical layers of the project, resonating of form and content and engaging sculptural methods with the conceptual tendencies. They consider initiation of projects to be part of their work, reflecting not only architectural, but also programme, content and social aspects.

Using material and shape mimicry, the Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center organically connects its appearance with the environment of the reserve. It works with the natural connection between the organic and inorganic components of nature, which permeates not only the technical part of the building (cooling and condensation system) but also all exhibition and didactic strategies (living parts of the facades, water elements and indoor life organisms). The building is designed as a visitor center containing elements of a small museum with emphasis on flamingo nesting, allowing exhibition and program expansion (specifics of live forms influenced by carotenoid, partially live displays forming small biotopes).

The spatial arrangement of the building is based on an O and S-shape intertwined composition with a circular floor plan, which naturally leads visitors through its folds and gradually opens the individual highlights of the building’s program and its interaction with the reserve.
The dynamic curve arrangement and continuous shaping enables barrier-free movement around the building and infinitely diverse modulation of visitors’ perception. Blending of exterior into a shaded forecourt and interior almost without a structurally articulated interface gives the object its timelessness.
View from a distance the building results a form that is not unequivocally geomorphic or zoomorphic, it can be seen as references to the morphology of a sleeping flamingo as well as to rock formations in the Arabian desert.

For the program, access to the building leads through the roof, on which there is a lake (pink lake biotope) illuminating through the transparent bottom the main hall of the building below. Using a gradual ramp, visitors descend through a fold between the rotating tubes of the building’s volume to an observation terrace shaded from the sun by a levitating overhang – a tube containing the display area and the main viewpoint of the reserve. The terrace is separated from the reserve by a bay formed by a water element with a saltwater biotope containing microorganisms specific to the reserve. The proposal sees the exhibition content as more complex and uses the specific reserve environment to outline the methodology in a bigger picture, showing the principles of colour changes affected by carotenoid (flamingos, water, crustacean, plants, algae) and other possible topics.
The exhibition is conceived as partially live with the plants and aquariums that help to maintain a pleasant climate with different humidity. Proceeding in the exhibition, visitors get to the culminating height point of the exhibition tube, which allows a maximum view of the reserve through a wide panoramic window.

The building’s structure is an insulated sandwich made of cast and torcreted colored concrete finished with sandblasting. The used material itself offers a didactic layer regarding the material, its color, texture and structure, and the live organisms layer, which complements it and participates in cooling.

Visualization by Mykhaylo Slyusar | SDAR.

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