Al Zorah pavilion

A geometric volume with cutting edges, coated with zinc, overlooks the mangroves of Ajman and hosts in its wide spaces different administrative, cultural and recreational activities.

Annabel Karim Kassar, Al Zorah pavilion, Ajman, United Arab Emirates
Annabel Karim Kassar has designed a 4,500 sqm multifunctional center dedicated to administration, culture and entertainment overlooking the mangrove of Ajman (UAE).
The pavilion is designed with a very sensitive approach to the site in symbiosis with the landscape. It is conceived as a simple geometric form standing in the desert as a landscape within another. The pavilion rests under a canopy, a folded roof reminiscent of the existing topographical strata leading down to the water.
Annabel Karim Kassar, Al Zorah pavilion, Ajman, United Arab Emirates. Photo © Al Zorah Company
Top and above : Annabel Karim Kassar, Al Zorah pavilion, Ajman, United Arab Emirates. Photo © Al Zorah Company

Design approach pays attention to the climate conditions of the place and highlights the surround of the Tidal lagoon, or Khor, an inland creek that extends over two square kilometers of biologically and ecologically rich wetland.

To avoid the trend of “air-conditioned architecture”, the building is sit in the plot turning its back to the south and fully opened to the north towards the mangroves.

Facing south, the roof is all clad with zinc shingles protecting the pavilion from strong sunlight and simultaneously blocking the noise from the nearby highway. The dark tinted glass façade is oriented north towards the mangroves, providing transparency into the interior and unobstructed views to the natural landscape. The roof catches sunlight and shines by daytime; it’s lit up with LED projectors by night. The pavilion houses an internal auditorium of 150 seats extending to the exterior for outdoor events, an exhibition space, a café with a terrace, a guest house at the roof top level and an administrative floor. The full height entrance lobby connects visually the two floors through glazed walls that create a bright and light space.
Annabel Karim Kassar, Al Zorah pavilion, Ajman, United Arab Emirates. Photo © Tony Elieh
Annabel Karim Kassar, Al Zorah pavilion, Ajman, United Arab Emirates. Photo © Tony Elieh

The first floor hosts the administrative spaces destined to Al Zorah Company senior management’s offices and marketing activities. The 985 sqm include four private offices, an open space area and three meeting rooms, beyond a VIP area. The car parking is underground, sheltered with a green layer with benefits due to reduced pollution, and energy savings.

Spaces open up from under a folded crossed cut slab: the slope of the folded roof starts from the entrance and reaches up to the highest point of the structure through an open air staircase which leads to terraced belvedere spaces looking out to the sea; it beckons visitors to climb it to survey the rooftop views. The entrance is at the cut between the roofscape and has a well-framed view out towards the natural mangrove. The pavilion extends with a walkway that takes visitors on a stroll into the landscape; the building is a balcony looking out towards Al Zorah’s mangroves.


Al Zorah pavilion, Ajman, United Arab Emirates
Program : multifunctional building
Architects : Annabel Karim Kassar
Project architect : Rabih Zeidan
Lighting designers : CAI-Light
Interior architect : Violaine Jeantet with Nehmat Alameh
Collaborators : Jean Sfeir, Walid Hamze, Carlos Bernalte, Marc Fahed, Rico Ruete, Larry Merciales, Mustapha Hijazi
Area : 4,500 sqm
Completion : 2015

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