Two 1960s stone-built buildings re-imagined into a contemporary boutique lodge and restaurant

Set at the foot of Mount Alvaah, the Al Faya Lodge is nestled into the UAE’s prehistoric crimson desert landscape with close proximity to the UAE’s first petroleum pump. The Al Faya Lodge is a new addition to the Sharjah Collection – a group of distinctive boutique hotels and eco-retreats purposefully located in key locations throughout the Sharjah Emirate.

The architecture and design of the Al Faya Lodge, by architect Jonathan Ashmore and his Dubai and London-based practice ANARCHITECT are paramount to the experience it provides. Two single-story, stone-built buildings from the 1960s, previously occupied as a clinic and grocery store, have been re-imagined into a contemporary boutique lodge and restaurant.

The architecture and interior interventions purposely contrast the original fabric of the existing buildings. CorTen steel emphasizes the new additional layers that have been introduced to repurpose and extend the spaces to accommodate a new series of programmes.

In doing so, ANARCHITECT has inadvertently drawn focus to the original buildings, creating clearly defined thresholds and the juxtaposition between that what is old and what is new.

Jonathan Ashmore, practice Principal, comments: “Desert conditions present extreme heat in summer with intense and prolonged sun exposure so it is important to consider these factors when first designing the form and mass of the building and secondly the selection of suitable and robust materials which go hand in hand.

Desert sites are also exposed to elements such as driving rain, sand storms and low-temperatures at night. Locally sourced stone or concrete construction provide heavy thermal mass to deal with the extreme temperature fluctuations.

Surface materials like Corten steel and secondary structure materials like robust hardwoods and aluminum add refinement and precision to the design particularly for over-sailing roofs, shading elements and terrace decks raised above the level of the sands.

The Lodge comprises of a dining, reception room, library & roof terrace. Within each room of the five-bedroom lodge is a feature skylight for star-gazing, the luxe room has the added experience of a private roof terrace and dual aspect. The purpose-built spa building houses an open-air saltwater pool and three salt spa experiences; heat, water and salt inhalation.

The restaurant and visitors’ reception are located on the other side of the property and comprise a dining room, outdoor terrace, fire-pit and a public roof terrace.

Al Faya Lodge offered a one-of-a-kind and exciting challenge for ANARCHITECT with their passion for site-responsive projects and affinity to detail and materiality. The choice of material is contextual and relevant not only to the harsh, arid, desert climate but also to the historical presence of the iron in the region.

The Lodge, Spa and Restaurant buildings are divided by a through-road which creates an unusual and dynamic urbanity to the master plan of the retreat. The buildings together with the historical petroleum pump command a presence to the road in the scarce desert landscape and will become both a destination and stop-off for those who know and for those who then discover this new intervention.

Design and info © ANARCHITECT

Images © Fernando Guerra

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