Khor Kalba turtle and wildlife sanctuary comes to an end in United Arab Emirates


The Khor Kalba Turtle and Wildlife Sanctuary, located in one of the Gulf’s most sensitive and biodiverse nature reserves, has completed construction.

The sanctuary comprises a group of rounded building forms that create a sanctuary for the rehabilitation of turtles and the education of endangered birds. The facility will also provide educational and visitor facilities to increase environmental awareness and engagement with conservation programs.

Seven interconnected pods and tensile structures will create the installation. The geometry of the pods is inspired by sea urchin exoskeletons. They were designed as prefabricated concrete structures to minimize disturbance to the existing terrain. Concrete foundations are simple, sturdy discs that are raised to protect structures at the location from the tide.

The pods are covered with segments of white scalloped precast concrete that refer to seashells found on the local shore. A range of steel ribs accentuate the sculptural cantilever forms and complete the robust cladding system.

Khor Kalba Turtle and Wildlife Sanctuary Exhibition Space

The sanctuary includes a visitor center with a terrace and a view of the mangrove forests, exhibition areas, visitor facilities, staff offices, veterinary facilities, laboratories, classrooms, a gift shop, aquariums and a cafe. A nature trail will encourage visitors to discover the biodiversity of the reserve.

The interior visitor area of ​​the Khor Kalba turtle and wildlife sanctuary

Visitors approach a semi-closed ribbed pod that serves as an orientation space and features glazed openings facing key views. Passive design principles were prioritized throughout construction to protect interior spaces from desert heat and reduce overall operational energy required. The precast concrete foundation shells, ribs and discs of the pods provide an exposed and well-sealed thermal mass to their floors, walls and roofs. A waterproof membrane and insulation extending within the liner cavity are continuous over the entire surface of the pods.

Besides Hopkins Architects, the construction team also included Hardco Building Contracting (general contractor), e.Construct (structural engineer), Godwin Austen Johnson (MEP engineer) and Lux ​​Populi (architectural lighting).

Aerial view of Khor Kalba turtle and wildlife sanctuary

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