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Concrete desert retreat mimics surrounding mountains and dunes

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Curves for days

Undulating building in desert Photo: Rory Gardiner

If a building is going to mimic its surroundings, it’s awfully convenient to build it among gentle but striking rolling mountains and sand dunes. That’s what Oppenheim Architecture did with the Ayla Golfclub, an ultra-chic leisure retreat in Aqaba, Jordan.

The clubhouse is set against a backdrop of the Aqaba Mountains and surrounding desertscape. Its undulating form is made from an orange pigmented shotcrete, a type of concrete that sprays from a hose onto formwork. According to the architects, the design was also inspired by traditional Bedouin tents.

Orange concrete building in desert Photo: Rory Gardiner
Curved building with screen window Photo: Rory Gardiner

The exterior drapes over the interior creating ripples of concrete that arch up from the ground and frame the nearby hills. The curved openings are sheathed with perforated steel screens that are meant to evoke traditional Mashrabiya patterned screened walls.

Outdoor seating area Photo: Rory Gardiner

The effect is stunning and simple—it’s both artfully primitive in its shape and color yet richly detailed in its execution. The clubhouse is just one part of a larger 18-acre development that includes residences, which means we might be seeing more desert-inspired buildings to come.