British architectural firm Foster + Partners has unveiled its first designs for the world’s first fully immersive experiential marine life center located in the Triple Bay Marina in AMALAA, a tourist destination off the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia. The institute seeks to offer guests insight into the wonders of the marine world and further educate visitors on the challenges humanity faces in conserving these natural habitats.
“We are delighted to work closely with The Red Sea Development Company to realize this unique project. Built-in exhibits take visitors on a journey through the Red Sea, as they descend through the building to the immersive “big reveal” of the deep reef. At the heart of the space, a large suspended semi-spherical tank – a true first of its kind – contains local marine wildlife in a stunning display of corals,” says Gerard Evenden, Studio Head, Foster + Partners.
The institute is divided into three floors, located above ground, below ground and under water. The entrance to the institute is flanked by colorful tanks as guests walk towards the central exhibit. The exhibits are integrated into the building’s positioning and architecture, taking guests on a journey through the Red Sea, “from shallow mangroves and sandy beaches to the immersive grand revelation of the deep reef, which creates an awe-inspiring spectacle. for visitors as they descend through the building into the ocean,” Foster + Partners wrote in a press release. Above, a large central canopy spans all four groups of buildings, providing shade in areas otherwise open to the sky.
While offering panoramic views of the Red Sea and surrounding marina, the institute offers researcher-led tours of the laboratories and guided underwater tours of the Red Sea in state-of-the-art submersibles. Private offices are naturally lit through intricately patterned screens inspired by the pattern of coral, while rugged GRC panels further replicate the shapes and textures of coral reefs.
Over 40 percent of the site is covered in native plants with a system in place to collect runoff, prevent erosion and reduce water consumption. The lighting has also been consciously designed with sustainability in mind, incorporating an innovative frame that prevents light pollution.
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