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Commissioned by the Eco Resort Group for a remote site in southern Abu Dhabi, the resort is definitely designed for an upscale client – not so rare a breed in this wealthy Gulf country. Nonetheless, by choosing this particular design, the developers show a willingness to exact a more equitable relationship between the built and existing environment.

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“At the very early stages of the project, we found out that we could extract groundwater using a deep well. This gave us an opportunity to create a story around a spring, which was of critical importance to Bedouins for trade and transportation routes,” said Baharash Bagherian. This water will be used for crop irrigation, fish farming, and recreational activities, while also providing habitat for local fauna. While it worries us to see precious groundwater used for a luxury development, when it comes at such a premium throughout the UAE, Baharash has taken strides to ensure it will be used sensibly with an onsite wastewater treatment system and water recycling for irrigation.

Related: Dubai’s Sustainable City will be powered with 600,000 square feet of solar cells

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These crops will be used to provide fresh, local and organic ingredients for the resort’s restaurant, in addition to other food sourced from local farmers. Guests are even encouraged for forage for their own vegetables and fish, after which the chef will help incorporate their particular choices into a custom meal. The entire development is organized around the spring, with a low-lying, angular PV-topped building comprising 84 suites of various sizes. Because of how the site is organized, all of them will enjoy views of the dusty red landscape.

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The zero-emissions zone will also have its own waste treatment center, as well as business and research facility. And – almost like an American national park like Yellowstone – will employ wildlife biologists and conservation staff – ostensibly to ensure perpetual harmony between the resort, its patrons, the land and the creatures that inhabit it.

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Bagherian claims the project is designed to provide more than just economic and socio-cultural benefits. “The resort will provide job opportunities for locals, creating a more diversified economy,” he said. “It will also preserve the region’s heritage and provide greater interaction with native people.”

+ Baharash Architecture