climate change

New Interpretive Centre connects visitors to ‘dramatic climate change’ in Arabian desert

Article: David Styles | Image: Visitor centre viewed from geological trail © Marc Goodwin

Built in a remote region of the Arabian desert which used to be the sea bed, Buhais Geology Park Interpretive Centre offers visitors access to a wealth of prehistoric and geological artefacts in a unique – and highly relevant – museum setting.

A new Interpretive Centre, designed by Hopkins Architects, has been unveiled at Buhais Geology Park in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

The Centre comprises five interconnected pods that reference the region’s prehistoric fossils in their aesthetic. The pods house exhibition spaces, an immersive theatre, a café with views of the Jebel Buhais mountain range, a gift shop, and other visitor facilities.

Aerial view of exhibition pod © Marc Goodwin
View of exhibition space © Joanne Yu

Displays include marine fossils dating back 65 million years and ancient burial sites from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages.

Environmentalism is also in stark focus at the Park, given its location on a former sea bed which is now arid desert. The site offers an “exciting new environmental focus…which is especially relevant as we face further dramatic climate change,” according to Peter Jackson, architect advisor and project co-ordinator in HH the Ruler’s Office.

Though foremost an educational resource, he adds, the Park will be important for tourism across the UAE.

Nightime view of visitor centre © Marc Goodwin

The site’s five fossil-inspired structures and connected by an outdoor trail accessible from the main exhibition area. This trail incorporates viewing areas, a classroom, and raised walkways across various geological sites.

Aerial view of entrance walkway © Marc Goodwin
A visitor heads into the Buhais Geology Park © Marc Goodwin

Buhais Geology Park forms a wider suite of learning centres in Sharjah’s immediate vicinity. These all come under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protected Areas Authority, which leads conservation efforts in the nation, manages protected areas, and provides a range of educational experiences.

Simon Fraser, principal at Hopkins Architects, says the Centre will allow thousands of people from all over the world to “understand the way in which landscapes are formed by tectonic activities and how the Earth has changed over time.”

As part of ongoing development in the region, Hopkins Architects are simultaneously nearing the completion of the Al Qurum Mangroves & Turtles Interpretive Centre, also in Sharjah.