Nader Khalili-inspired Eco Resort in Oman Wins Big Accolades at WAF

green building, Nader Khalili, Cal-Earth, Earth Building, Oman, earth architecture A Nader Khalili-inspired earthen eco resort in southern Oman designed by SSH International won first prize in the Future Projects – Leisure led development category of this year’s World Architecture Festival.

The Kuwait-based firm sought to satisfy three main requirements in this prototype for one of the Gulf’s largest developers, who aims to develop 1 million square meters of land in this pristine part of the country: economic viability, environmental sustainability and social upliftment. The developer agreed, so SSSH sought the green building expertise of the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture (Cal-Earth) originally found by Nader Khalili.  

green building, Nader Khalili, Cal-Earth, Earth Building, Oman, earth architecture Cal-Earth conducted on site training programs in earth architecture in the Shuwaimia fishing village, attracting a throng of curious onlookers. After a five day open house period, the contractor hired five of the locals to help build the triple vault and eco-dome structure.

The dome is a prototype proposed by SSH to the developer as the most viable type of architecture likely to draw high-end customers seeking an authentic experience in this 30 km stretch of untouched beachfront.

For this project, all kinds of local materials were game: the team experimented with using old fishing nets mixed in with plaster and local stone for the flooring, and they scoured Oman for authentic decorative items in order to put the dome into its proper cultural context.

In addition to giving local builders new skills, a palm-weaving workshop was installed on site for women, giving the community an enormous sense of pride for having contributed to this beautiful construction.

green building, Nader Khalili, Cal-Earth, Earth Building, Oman, earth architecture It is solar-powered and has a separate water heater, as well as an internal wind tower, and the 50cm thick walls ensure the temperature inside is very comfortable.

SSH is working with the American University of Beirut to monitor the climatic conditions inside the new building, which will be used as an educational tool for academic institutions in Oman.

This is a groundbreaking initiative, not only because there is an earthen eco-resort in Oman, but because it has been sanctioned by a massive developer. Which means that instead of destroying yet another majestic plot of land with ugly concrete and glass monstrosities, Oman will be able to keep some of its allure with a series of healthy structures that give back – economically, environmentally, and socially.

We’re not sure what Nader Khalili would think of his earth buildings, which were originally conceived to help the poor and to survive conditions in space, being used in a leisure context, but we think this definitely beats the alternative. And clearly, the judges think so too.

 

4 thoughts on “Nader Khalili-inspired Eco Resort in Oman Wins Big Accolades at WAF

  1. Chris Green

    It appears Lime was used for plaster and mortar in Oman, as was adobe/ earthen/ mud bricks.

    “The Architecture of Oman varies and depends on the location. The most important building materials used in Oman consist of stones, baked bricks, mud bricks, palm trees, mangrove poles and lime which is mainly used for plaster and mortar.”
    Source of quote: This website has photos of some old buildings in Oman.
    http://www.visualgeography.com/categories/oman/houses.html

    So what is happening here is that a new tradition may have been begun. We shall see if the earthbag construction technique is adopted by the people in that location, and if they come up with a local visual language of their own.
    I will also argue that the high-quality work shown in the finish on these domes is strong evidence the local workers are familiar with working with a clay/lime materials, and have take pride in their work.

    Reply
  2. Oman

    While in essence applaudable – the building has no relationship to the traditional building material in that region and therefore cannot give an authentic experience. Mud is a new substance there (though 1000kms to the north and south it is used), domed housing was never used in the location. What looks like lime plaster was never used in this region (though is was several hundred kilometres away).
    In essence it is a fabricated version of imagined authenticity by a foreign firm.

    Reply
  3. Meem Radwill

    Thank you for this post. At last a true Eco project and kudos to them for the women’s project. I hope this trend continues. I shall try to get to see this.

    Reply

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