An Oasis Between Monumental Tombs in Desert X Alula Visitor Center

KWY.studio
2020

Photo by Colin Robertson

The Visitor Centre is a simple square building, carefully isolated at the entrance of the Hidden Canyon welcoming visitors for the first Desert X Alula exhibition.

Photo by Colin Robertson

It offers basic amenities such as an information center and a café as well as a generously shaded courtyard and a viewing deck outside a place to rest and find shelter in the open desert, while its courtyard frames views into the sky and the magnificent landscape. 

The few, precisely located windows create various focal points up and down the canyon and increase the contrast between the domestic and the unlimited: an expression of our scale and our relationship with nature. 

Photo by Colin Robertson

The circular roof opening creates a particular atmosphere – a perfect shape framing the rocks and the sky. 

Photo by Colin Robertson

The two entrances into the courtyard are viewing axes extended by the transparent doors into the information center and the café: the opposing windows in each of those spaces giving a framed view back into the desert. 

Photo by Colin Robertson

The floorplan is symmetric and nondirectional with each of the two main public spaces accessed from the center of each side of the courtyard; facilities such as restrooms, staff, and storage are located in the corner diagonal to the courtyard. 

Photo by Colin Robertson

Its structural grid is simple, and the uniformly dimensioned spaces allow for the reorganizing of the structure for a future change of use. 

Photo by Colin Robertson

Desert X Al Ula Visitor Centre is a modest structure, designed and rapidly built with mostly local materials, drawing from two local references: an archetypal walled garden, and constructive clarity.


About the Designer: KWY.studio

KWY.studio is a multidisciplinary platform investigating the nature of collaboration within the context of specific projects. Founded in 2009 by architects Ben Allen and Ricardo Gomes in Berlin, and curator and editor James Bae in Los Angeles, since 2015 has its studio at the Lisbon Architecture Triennale, Portugal and an office in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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