On the Edge of a Floodplain

Al Sajaya Girls’ Sports Center is a complex that houses an olympic size pool, an indoor sports hall, a cafe, numerous multipurpose halls, and their support programs. The building’s design is a direct response to the topographic conditions on site and its programmatic requirements. The sunken halls aim to reduce cut and fill operations on site. The building, half submerged below street level, steps away from the edge of the plot maintaining room for rain flood lines that exist on site. The outcome is a “matt” building that sits atop a sculpted terrain connected to the street level via a series of pedestrian and vehicular bridges that branch out like tentacles.

An entry plaza is positioned at the center of the 300m long structure providing equal proximity to both sides of the building. Public programs, administrative offices, general public hallways are all positioned on the upper level of the building while all controlled access zones, sports halls, locker rooms, and bathrooms are on the lower level – below grade. A series of courtyards interrupt the long hallways and provide moments of relief filled with sunlight and vegetation.

The building is clad in black steel in correlation to the colors of the rocky terrain. Concrete plinths simulate resting points against which the lightweight structure rests. Overhung platforms framing the perimeter of the building become landscape trails accentuating its relationship to the site and the surrounding terrain.

Team: Ahmad Othman, Eslam Salem, Fayez Najeeb, Jafar Abbas

Client: Department of Public Works, Sharjah

Collaborators: Architect of Record, Shape Architecture and Research

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