Ayla Golf Academy and Clubhouse is an example of reinterpretation of traditional architecture that connects the present to the past, while glancing into the future of the built environment.
The project was designed by Oppenheim, an architecture firm based in Miami, focused on designing residential and office programs. The project is located in the Golf District, part of the Ayla Oasis Development, a new project not yet finished at the outskirts of Aqaba in Jordan. The whole development is called Ayla Golf Resort and consists of a hotel, residential and commercial buildings. It is part of a larger development project, all centred around the 18-hole golf stuff, the first one of this type in Jordan.
The Clubhouse will feature retail, dining, bar/lounge, banquet, fitness, and spa components and the Golf Academy consists in retail, dining and a golf swing-analysis studio.
The hot desert climate of the north-east coast of the Red Sea, where Aqaba is situated, as well as the nearby mountains and the surroundings consisting mostly of sand dunes influenced the design and concept of the building.
Internalising all these factors, the design of the building was also influenced by the local tradition of the Mashrabiya and by the aesthetics of the old Bedouin's tents.
The project is catching the natural beauty of the surrounding environment into it's shape. Above any other of it's characteristics, it is a sculptural project. The building consists of a wave like thin concrete slab that blends into the surroundings. The shape gives a sense of fluidity, both to the interior and to the exterior. The line between the two worlds - the breezy interior and the hot exterior - is very thin, but the shell-like surface of the building creates the perfect refuge.
The openings in the shell create a close connections to the Golf course or to the Aqaba Mountains behind. It has a plastic shape on the outside, a shape that is transcribed in the inside also. The colour of the concrete shell consisting mostly of red hues resembles the surroundings while the undulating form creates all the ceilings and the partitions of the interior space.
Cor-ten steel perforated screens are used to filter the light. This gives an intimate feeling and it is also a reference to the traditional Jordanian patterns and to the Mashrabiya. This is a very distinctive architectural element of the Islamic heritage. It has both a functional role, protecting the interior from the excessive light and sun in the Middle East, but it also plays an aesthetic function. Into the vernacular architecture it is used like a balcony projected from the facade and enclosed with carved wood panels that filter the light.
In terms of sustainability, the local community is involved into the making of the project by learning a new construction technique. For the shell of the building to be possible from the structural point of view, special techniques were involved, like the shot-crete pouring technique, which was thought in the beginning to the local workers. For the colours and hues of both the interior and the exterior were obtained courtesy to a local artist who applied a traditional pigmentation technique to the interior surfaces of the shell.
Beside all this, another sustainable act is the use of passive design. The orientation of the building - North-South - make use of the prevailing Northern winds, as well as the open air lobby and circulation area that create a proper cross-ventilation that reduce the need of air conditioning.
Ayla Golf Academy and Clubhouse is, above all, a new interpretation of the vernacular architecture and the traditions of the Arabic world. By using this features, it is also blending into the surroundings, creating a special relaxing atmosphere.
Photography Rory Gardiner