Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Type: Bird-watching Tower
“I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own.”
“Reconnecting” is the key word that sparked the thinking process behind this proposal. Buoyed by the idea to recreate the missing link between our urbanised world and the natural environment, this project invites visitors to reconnect with the environment on a journey through an organic network of boardwalks, culminating in the opportunity to observe local wildlife in the “Volplaning Tower”.
The boardwalk network’s organic design is a metaphorical representation of volplaning, which describes the smooth and continuous movement of a flying bird. It harmoniously combines straight trajectories and sinuous curves, softly touching the reserve’s precious land without interfering with the area’s flora and fauna.
The main structure of this proposal is a panoramic tower, which is an extension of the landscape that softly detaches from the ground to become a visible and distinguishing landmark. A sequence of ramps integrated into the structure brings the visitors “up in the air”, allowing them to reach the three levels of the tower through soft inclined ramps. Secondary ramps connect the three floors and enable visitors to move easily between the different levels.
The Volplaning Tower’s timber frame serves as a supportive structure for the three levels of ramps. The frame may appear as a “naked” skeleton at first as visitors access the structure from the footpath. Yet, as they reach the end of the structure, the tower increasingly gets covered by horizontal wood louvers, adding complexity and firmness to the architectural design.
The overall structure, in its colours but also in its appearance, is inspired by the body of the flamingos that inhabit the Al Wathba Wetland reserve. The structure’s louvers represent the flamingo’s pink feathers, creating both shading for the visitors walking in the structure but also a protective separation from the natural environment to avoid animal disturbance.