Shomari Wild Reserve Visitors Center

RSCN (Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature)

Location : Shomari, Jordan

Joint venture : The Roots (Consulting Engineers) + JAIN (Sustainable Engineering Solutions)

Competition: Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Year : 2014

The project is about designing a visitor center at Shomari Nature Reserve for Wildlife in Jordan for the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN). RSCN is an independent national organization devoted to the conservation of Jordan’s natural resources through creating managing and advocating for a national network of protected areas leading to conservation of Jordan’s biodiversity, wildlife, and natural resources and supporting local community development.

The design was based on understanding the cultural landscape of the Reserve and the nature of its activities centering on wildlife conservation. The project aimed at transforming the place into a unique destination for nature and wildlife responsible tourism in Jordan. The result was a locale-driven architecture that is contemporary in its composition and in its approach to using existing traditional material (Different types of volcanic basalt) to produce a positive contrast with the land geology and green cover. The layout created an interactive journey (Architecture promenade) through a continuous strong relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces supporting spectacular possibilities to view the Reserve and its animals. This indoor-outdoor interaction was strengthened through the link between the building and the outdoor enclosures for the animals which can be observed from inside by walking through each of the three provided tunnels (of which one is existing) or by embarking on a safari to interact with the animals in their wild habitat. Furthermore, a large outdoor picnic area, equipped with pedagogic interpretation promoting wildlife conservation, was incorporated in the design to serve visitors and the nearby local community of Azraq.