Laminam Surfaces for the Al Faya Lodge

The boutique hotel designed by ANARCHITECT in the United Arab Emirates’ red desert

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25/08/2020 - With its Dubai and London architecture studios, ANARCHITECT has created an exclusive new local and international tourism destination by transforming two stone buildings, erected in the 1960s near the United Arab Emirates’ historic first petrol pump – a symbol of the country’s economy. The architect used Laminam’s innovative large-sized ceramic slabs to create continuity between internal spaces and the exterior steel cladding, and obtain a three-metre ceiling height.
The project and the use of Laminam finishes
The Al Faya Lodge is the latest pearl in the Sharjah Collection ‐ a group of boutique hotels and ecological havens located strategically in different parts of the Sharjah Emirate. Situated at the foot of Mount Alvaah, with all of the features to become an exclusive new tourist destination, the Al Faya Lodge stands in the United Arab Emirates’ red desert near the country’s historic first petrol pump. The project was designed by Jonathan Ashmore (director of the ANARCHITECT studio, with offices in Dubai and London), who reinvented and transformed the 1960s two single-storey stone buildings, which were a former medical clinic and a food store, into an elegant modern hotel with a restaurant. He added another building to the pre-existing structures to house a salt water spa.
The Al Faya Lodge was a unique and exciting challenge for ANARCHITECT, with its passion for projects customised for the destination site and its love for details and practical solutions. “A feature of the desert is its suffocating heat and intense, prolonged sunlight” explained Jonathan Ashmore. “These factors were important when designing the building’s shape and mass and when selecting materials - which must be suitable and resistant. Desert sites are exposed to sunlight and every type of weather: driving rain, sandstorms and low nocturnal temperatures, to name a few of the challenges. Local stone or cement buildings provide a thermal mass that can fight the temperature fluctuations caused by these extreme conditions. I considered the historical presence of iron in the region when I chose the materials. Lastly, I wanted to create a contrast with the existing buildings’ original fabric. My intention was to emphasise the new, additional architectural layers, create clear borders and generate a comparison between the old and new.”
Starting from these considerations, Jonathan Ashmore partially clad the boutique hotel’s outside walls with CorTen oxidised steel. The secondary structural materials were aluminium and hardwoods like teak, particularly for overhanging roofs, shading elements and raised terraces overlooking the dunes. In addition to plastered parts of the walls, these solutions add elegance and precision to the project, give the buildings a soft change of colour and texture designed to mature and change in response to the climate.
The architect selected the Laminam’s Bruno finish from the Ossido Series to highlight the new construction works for the building’s internal walls. “Our intention was to furnish the indoor spaces with the same chromatic texture of the CorTen steel used for the exterior,” explained Jonathan Ashmore. “In addition, we wanted to have a three-metre ceiling height, particularly in the hotel building to create rooms with relaxing proportions. The colour, large size (3x1 m), thin profile (3 mm) of Laminam surfaces, and the limited manoeuvring space in the existing building, were the factors that made this Italian company finish perfect for this exciting renovation project. The interior features are a translation of the Al Faya external architectural language – a recurring approach in ANARCHITECT projects.”
Boutique Hotel Structure
The project was designed to become a destination for people who want short breaks from intense city life. The Al Faya Lodge intentionally maintains its primordial style and allows its guests to simply cradle themselves in its existence as they absorb and contemplate the surrounding landscape in a most fitting way. This work embodies the design vision of ANARCHITECT and the ambition of the building’s owner. Its feature and passion-rich exclusive approach creates a unique hotel that can provide memorable experiences for curious and discerning clients.
The hotel has a dining room, reception room, library and rooftop terrace. Each of the hotel’s five bedrooms has a skylight to watch the stars, while the de luxe room has a private rooftop terrace and double exposure. The building erected to house the spa has an outdoor salt water pool and three “seaside” experiences: heat, water and salt inhalation. The Al Faya Lodge should be experienced in its entirety. Each guest should enjoy the spa designed for the structure. The spa offers complete privacy thanks to a self-service approach, which allows guests to schedule their own times. The restaurant and reception areas for visitors are found on the opposite side of the structure. These include a dining room, an outdoor terrace, a hearth and a public terrace on the roof.
The buildings housing the hotel, spa and restaurant are divided by a road crossing the property. This creates an unusual and dynamic interruption inside the site-plan layout. Together with the first historic petrol pump, the buildings stand out from the stark desert landscape, and will become a destination and a mandatory stopping point for those who know about these new hotels and the people yet to discover them.


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