Dubai architecture firm creates floating retreat concept for Sharjah's east coast

A series of individual tents will be suspended in the air at Wadi Shees

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Dubai’s Ardh Architects has developed the concept for its Floating Retreat in Sharjah.

The proposed project, a partnership with the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), would include a unique camping experience suspended between two mountains.

Inspired by the practice of cliff camping, the concept features a series of individual tent-like structures, or hangars, equipped with electricity, heating and comfortable beds, designed to provide a luxurious, if unconventional camping experience.

The initial concept allows for 10 tents, each able to sleep two people. These will be positioned at various levels to ensure complete privacy. Guests will be able to control the elevation of their individual tents.

“We have identified the site for the floating retreat project as Wadi Shees in Sharjah. The mountains at this location have been 3D-scanned to ensure that the project dimensions are specifically tailored to the site,” Omran Alowais, lead architect for the project, tells The National.

The region on Sharjah's east coast is known for its natural beauty and is surrounded by the Hajar Mountains.

The mountains at Wadi Shees have been 3D-scanned to allow the architect to tailor the project specifically to the site. Photo: Omran Alowais / Ardh Architects

“The Floating Retreat project is more than just a concept at this stage. Our team has been working on the planning and development of this project, and we have concrete plans in place to bring it to life,” he adds.

Operating between November and May, to take advantage of the cooler weather, the Floating Retreat development would be be built in a manner that is harmonious with the natural environment and the local community, with efforts taken to minimise any negative impact on the region.

But before it can get off the ground, there are some challenges the design team need to satisfy.

“There are many technical and logistical challenges that we need to address, such as developing the necessary infrastructure (off-site solar power) and support systems for the floating tents.”

And while no timeline has been set for the project's inception, Alowais is sure it can be realised in the not-too-distant future.

“We are confident that with careful planning and execution, the Floating Retreat project will be successful and come to fruition soon. Safety is our top priority, and we will take all necessary measures to ensure the comfort and well-being of our guests while they enjoy this unique and exciting experience.”

A rendering showing the view from a floating platform at the retreat. Photo: Omran Alowais / Ardh Architects / Arqui9

To help guests fully immerse themselves in the project’s unique setting, the Floating Retreat would also offer a series of nature-related activities, such as mountain-climbing and wadi treks.

According to Ardh Architects, the Floating Retreat development should provide a tourism boost for Sharjah, while encouraging guests to reconnect with nature.

“One of the main goals of the project is to re-energise the local community through tourism, by providing a space for people to connect with the natural beauty of the region and to learn about its rich culture and heritage," says Alowais.

“The facility is designed to be family-friendly, with the aim of promoting environmental awareness and appreciation of the local environment. The tranquil and serene atmosphere of the Floating Retreat also provides guests with the opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and to enjoy a sense of calmness and peace.”

Ardh, which translates from Arabic as land or earth, is an Emirati architecture and urban design studio that focuses on contemporary, sustainable projects. Some of its other proposed designs include a reinvigoration of Jumeirah Archaeological Square, and a pop-up mosque that could be erected and dismantled within minutes and moved according to where it is most needed by worshippers.

Updated: January 06, 2023, 9:38 AM
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