The Dead Sea garnered international attention when photographer Spencer Tunick assembled a gang of naked nature enthusiasts for a controversial photo shoot, but the momentum has since died down. Paris-based Sitbon Architectes attempts to re-galvanize our attention with their award-winning design Cristal – The Dead Sea Gem.
Every year the Dead Sea shrinks roughly one meter. Its main tributary, the Jordan River, is drying up, and companies like Israel Chemicals have been extracting its salt and mineral bounty, putting the fragile ecosystem at peril.
At the current rate, the Dead Sea, which nearly dried up eons ago, could completely disappear by 2050 if succinct measures are not taken to protect it.
That’s where Sitbon Architectes comes in.
Winner of Azure’s “best unbuilt competition entry” and “the people’s choice” prizes for their 2013 international design competition, the firm sought to draw attention to the Dead Sea’s unique nature while also providing an inspiring leisure center for both local and foreign visitors.
Designed for the Israeli side of what is also known as the Salt Sea due to its 33.7 percent salinity, the center is comprised of a prefabricated metal structure that can be erected in just six days.
What’s more, it is supposed to become completely covered in salt, so that the center takes on the same quality as the surrounding environment.
Organized around a crystal core, the leisure center has facilities for everyone: a bar and restaurant, a promenade for camels and their owners, mud squares for bathing, and even spots for people to practice paddling.
The ground floor was designed for socialization, but the first floor, reached only by a flight of stairs, encourages contemplation as it leads to spectacular views of the mountains, the Dead Sea and beyond.
The stairs, meanwhile, are symbolic of time. Time past, the present and the future, and represent the importance of caring not only for ourselves, but for our ailing natural resources.
For the Dead Sea, the clock is ticking.
:: Arch Daily