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Jordan’s Ayla Clubhouse & Golf Academy replicates the rolling desert dunescape

Georgina Johnston
24 Dec 2019

The 1,200m² building is part of the first phase of a 44k² leisure development currently under construction in Aqaba

Ayla Golf Academy & Clubhouse takes inspiration from the natural dunescapes and mountains of the surrounding desert as well as the architectural heritage of the ancient Bedouin. The innovative and organic design of the building forms the iconic core of the Ayla Oasis mixed-use resort development.

The development encompasses residential, hotel and commercial space, all centered around an 18-hole signature golf course. The Clubhouse features retail, dining, bar/lounge, banquet, fitness, and spa components; while the Golf Academy includes retail, dining, and indoor/outdoor swing analysis studio components. 

The distinct architectural form of the Ayla Golf Academy & Clubhouse establishes a unique connection with nature by capturing the elemental, vibrant beauty of the rolling desert landscape. A massive concrete shell drapes over the program areas, enveloping the interior and exterior walls of each volume. The curved shotcrete shell blends with the sand like dunes instead of having conventional walls and ceilings. Openings grant views towards the spectacular Aqaba Mountains in the background. Corten steel perforated screen filters the light, similar to the traditional Arabic ‘’Mashrabiya’. Jordanian patterns inspired the triangular pattern of openings while the tones of the surrounding mountains are echoed in the colors of the shotcrete and the metals.

The construction of the project is the result of a knowledge exchange program between the European office of Oppenheim Architecture and local workforce. Shotcrete pouring techniques were taught to workers in the first phases so that they could take ownership of the construction and obtain specialized skills. A local artist also helped shape the building by applying a traditional pigmentation technique to the interior surfaces, granting a raw, unadorned look that stays true to its context and inspiration.

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