Dune Lodges are an innovative prefabricated solution for the arid Arabian oryx protected area in Abu-Dhabi. The lodges are designed to provide visitors a unique experience in an ecological, off-grid, and beautiful shelter with the most dramatic views of the desert landscape and the night stars from within the comfort of their lodge.
The lodge was designed with the idea of invisibility inside the natural reserve, disappearing into the landscape with its shallow, dune-like forms, elements, and colors. The main geometry was conceived using biomimetic principles from the cactus plant, which perfectly adapted to arid climate conditions over millions of years. The cactus has a special solution for coping with the desert heat- using special cooling ribs topology, the ribs’ projecting shape keeps minimal surface area exposed to the sun, and it is able to self-shade most of its surface during the day. This way the dune lodge also has a ‘star’ distribution, with many shaded corners for cool air to flow. To enhance the effect, each rib/opening is covered by a second, kinetic skin for adaptive shading. These textile elements are inspired from the vernacular mashrabiyas that maximize shade while using perforation to efficiently ventilate and cool internal spaces. A similar kinetic shading device is employed to cover a big skylight In the center of the lodge. Thus, these light-weight textile elements play four roles: shading, ventilating, providing privacy, and reducing light pollution and its negative impacts on wildlife in the natural reserve.
The lodges are a modular system: one basic lodge module is aggregated to create a standard, VIP, and common hub typologies. The structural system itself is modular too, flooring and vaults are all modular, and all parts of one lodge fit into two small containers that could be easily transported. The main structural element is the vault module: it is made of lightweight insulating foam encased in a protective aluminum shell. As the foam could be molded in shape, it is engraved with internal ventilation grooves that allow air to flow under the roof cover and protect from the sun radiation. The roof surfaces, thanks to their geometry and materials, also act as dew condensers, that rapidly radiate heat and cool down during the cold desert nights, harvest water from the air and collect it through the drain points to the water tank under the lodge. This strategy, together with others such as a compostable toilet and PV cells, allow for the Lodge to be as independent of the grid as possible in terms of water, energy, and sewage while having a minimal impact on its surrounding natural habitat of the Arabian oryx.