Ralph Appelbaum Associates

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Buhais Geology Park

Sharjah, UAE

© Hopkins Architects

The Buhais Geology Park is a world-class interpretive center and ecotourism attraction that reveals the unique geology and natural history of the Sharjah region. Situated in a striking desert landscape, the park tells the story of how the region’s diverse geological features—the Hajar Mountains, jebels (hills), gravel plains, sand dunes, and the Arabian Gulf—all came to be.

RAA was invited to create exhibitions within the five variously sized architectural pods, which are inspired by the region’s sea urchin fossils. To begin, visitors watch a signature media program in an immersive theater. It tells the story of the region’s mountains, sand dunes, and the Arabian Gulf as dramatic evidence of the area’s changing geology over time – in particular, the disappearance of an earlier ocean and the creation of the limestone mountain ranges of Jebel Buhais.

Visitors and researchers alike can actively examine local rocks and fossils. On display are rare 93-million-year-old rocks, called ophiolite, from deep inside the earth, as well as fossils of now extinct bivalves, called rudists, and other ancient marine creatures that once thrived in a shallow sea that covered most of the UAE.

Using a series of physical and digital interactive displays, visitors learn about scientific principles and geological processes, such as plate tectonics. There is also a discovery zone, where young children can play a fossil matching game and make rubbings of specimens.

© Hopkins Architects

An outdoor interpretive trail provides an opportunity for visitors to experience the area’s geology and natural history firsthand, and discover Iron and Bronze Age archaeological excavations that tell of the humans who inhabited the area thousands of years ago.

Size 8,805 square feet

Year 2020

Architect Hopkins Architects

AwardsGrands Prix Du Design – 14e édition: Gold Winner, Culture, Sport & Leisure / Museum & GalleryIndustrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), International Design Excellence Award (IDEA): Finalist, EnvironmentsGOOD DESIGN® Award: WinnerArchitecture Masterprize (AMP): Winner, Cultural Architecture

© Hopkins Architects