The Ayla Golf Academy & Clubhouse is part of the first phase of a 44-square kilometre leisure development currently under construction in the Jordanian coastal city of Aqaba. The Ayla Oasis development encompasses residential, hotel and commercial space, all centered around an 18-hole signature golf course. The Clubhouse features retail, dining, bar/lounge, banquet, fitness, and spa components; while the Golf Academy includes retail, dining, and indoor/outdoor swing analysis studio components. This first phase of development is comprised of three buildings—a 1, 207 square meter Golf Academy, and two Comfort Stations totalling 500 square meters.
The Golf Academy & Clubhouse takes inspiration from the natural dunescapes and mountains of the surrounding desert, as well as the stretch tents of the ancient Bedouin. Its distinct architectural form establishes a unique connection with nature by capturing the elemental, vibrant beauty of the rolling desert landscape.
Designed to blend into the Jordanian desert, the undulating forms of the structure are created by a single concrete shell that drapes over the program areas. Eschewing conventional walls and ceilings, the curved shotcrete envelops the interior and exterior walls of each volume and blends with the sand like dunes. The curved openings frame the views of the golf course and the Aqaba Mountains in the background. Orange pigment was added to the concrete to allow the exterior to blend with the desert landscape, and raw materials sourced from the surrounding hillside were also incorporated in the shotcrete mixture to give the structure its characteristic rusty color.
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 Ayla Oasis Development is dedicated to protecting and enhancing its natural environment. With its use of a 5.8 megawatt photovoltaic farm, it is currently the largest renewable energy project in Aqaba. The Golf Academy & Clubhouse supports this commitment to sustainability through intelligent passive design. The structure is orientated North-South to take advantage of the area’s prevailing Northern winds. Its open air lobby and circular areas benefit from healthier and more effective natural cross-ventilation throughout, thus reducing the need for air-conditioning. Insulated roofs and cavity walls leverage the building’s thermal mass and reduces cooling loads, while double-glazed windows are further sheltered by shading screens and deep overhangs.
The construction of the project is the result of a knowledge exchange program between the firm and the 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 single wire grid was stretched beneath the reinforcement to ensure that the concrete would blow all the way to the floor during the spraying work. The Golf Academy & Clubhouse were entirely constructed with one machine that pumps cement, while the rest was done by hand by laborers who were taught shotcrete pouring techniques. The raw, unadorned look of the interior was similarly achieved through close collaboration with a local artist who applied a traditional pigmentation technique to the walls and surfaces. The construction process purposefully used very few techniques, instead relying heavily on local skill and craftsmanship to showcase the character of the region and its community.
The Ayla Golf Academy & Clubhouse forms the iconic core of the Alya Oasis mixed-use resort development. Its geomorphic design achieves a silent monumentality that is simultaneously striking and contextually sensitive.
Oppenheim Architecture is an award winning architecture, planning, and interior design firm specializing in hospitality, commercial mixed-use, retail and residential buildings worldwide. With over 70 firm distinctions, including over 45 AIA Awards, the firm’s work is built on both a physical and spiritual contextual sensitivity, supported by evocative and economic design solutions that all serve to enhance life.
The firm’s projects are crafted to establish the perfect balance between artistry and economics — timeless architecture that is as beautiful as it is functional. With projects spanning over 25 countries, the firm designs with sensitivity toward man and nature – harmonizing with the surroundings of each context.
Oppenheim Architecture is headquartered in Miami and has offices in New York and Basel, Switzerland.