Oppenheim Architecture recently completed the Ayla Clubhouse & Golf Academy in Jordan. The building takes inspiration from the natural dunescapes and mountains of the surrounding desert as well as the architectural heritage of the ancient Bedouin. The innovative and organic design of the building forms the iconic core of the Ayla Oasis mixed-use resort development in Aqaba city.
The 13,000 square foot building is part of the first phase of a 17 square mile leisure development currently under construction in Aqaba, Jordan. The development encompasses residential apartments, hotel, and commercial space, all centered around an 18-hole signature golf course designed by Greg Norman. The Clubhouse features retail, dining, lounge, banquet, spa and wellness components; while the Golf Academy includes retail, dining, and indoor/outdoor swing analysis studio components.
The distinct architectural form Ayla Golf Academy and Clubhouse establishes a unique connection with nature by capturing the elemental, vibrant beauty of the rolling desert landscape. A massive concrete shell drapes over the program areas, enveloping the interior and exterior walls of each volume under one continuous surface that emerges from the sand.
The curved shotcrete shell blends with the sand like dunes instead of having conventional walls and ceilings. The curved openings frame the views of the golf course and the colorful Aqaba Mountains in the background.
Sunlight is filtered through perforated corten-steel screens; similar to the traditional Arabic 'Mashrabiya' that were used to insert natural light without compromising the privacy of spaces. Jordanian patterns inspired the triangular openings of the screens, while the tones of the surrounding mountains are echoed in the colors of the shotcrete and the rustic metals.
The construction of the project is the result of a knowledge exchange program between the European office of Oppenheim Architecture and local workforce. Shotcrete pouring techniques were taught to workers in the first phases so that they could take ownership of the construction and obtain specialized skills. A local artist also helped shape the building by applying a traditional pigmentation technique to the interior surfaces, granting a raw, unadorned look that stays true to its context and inspiration.
Photography: Rory Gardiner