Wasit Natural Reserve Visitor Centre, UAE (23/04/2017)

Ahmed Al-Ali - Farid Esmaeil - Published in 2A Magazine, Edition 39 / Spring 2017


Wasit Natural Reserve Visitor Centre

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

First Place

Ahmed Al-Ali - Farid Esmaeil


Year: 2015

Firm: X-Architects

Firm Location: UAE

Team Members: Mirco Urban, Pariya Manafi, Dana Sheikh, Abdullah Bashir, Waleed Al Mezaini, Christian Geronimo, Brian Abarintos, Eyad Zarafeh, HaiderAl Kalamchi


Wasit Natural Reserve was originally a waste-water and rubbish dump. The rehabilitation process of the damaged eco-system started in 2005, 40,000m2 of rubbish removed, 35,000 trees been re-planted, healing the land from toxic chemicals and conservation of the Unique salt flats and costal sand dunes.

After years of efforts to bring the non-migratory birds back to the site, WNR is now home to 350 species of birds, a landing zone for 33,000 migrate birds, and a breathing lung to Sharjah city.

A wetland visitor center is established on site to continue protecting the natural environment, educate people on the richness of the wetland ecosystem and provides information about the birds that frequent the area and other wetlands areas of the emirate. The facility became heaven for bird watchers and researchers.

The architecture of the center blends with its’ surroundings and uses the existing topography to minimize the visual impact on the natural scene. When visitors arrive, a pathway leads them underground into a linear Gallery. A fully transparent wall allows the visitors to experience the birds’ natural environment and become part of it.