Skip to content

Wasit Wetland Centre


X-Architects, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

2019 Award recipient - Wasit Wetland Centre


“The Wasit Wetland Centre stands out as a remarkable, indeed unique, collaborative project combining architectural excellence with a deep commitment to ecological imperatives...Architecturally speaking, it is intent on disappearing from sight. It merges into the natural environment in ways that respect the site’s integrity – a wonderful way of reminding us that architectural merit resides more and more on a structure’s capacity to blend into an environment rather than challenge it.”

Part of a much larger initiative by Sharjah’s Environment


The remarkably simple building has two wings. The first one contains administrative and educational spaces, while the other accommodates the observation galleries.

and Protected Areas Agency to clean up and rehabilitate this ancient chain of wetlands along the Persian Gulf coast, the Wasit Wetland Centre aims to supply information and education about this unique environment and to encourage its preservation.

The Visitor Centre’s design takes advantage of the site’s natural topography to minimize its visual impact by making it appear submerged into the ground.The long viewing gallery flanked by aviaries, where birds can be seen in their natural habitat.

A cantilevered steel truss roof over the viewing gallery avoids the need for peripheral columns, allowing seamless glazed façades. The interior is deliberately minimalistic, and the façade glazing is slightly tilted, to enhance reflections of the landscape for the birds, while minimizing reflections for people looking out. To counter the very hot desert climate, the roof is well insulated and the glass is shaded by its overhang. Some fabric shading is also provided over the aviaries. Rainwater harvested from the roof is discreetly directed to specific areas of the landscape via spouts that are camouflaged by landscape elements.

What had become a waste dumping ground has had its indigenous ecosystem restored.The Project sets a powerful precedent that encourages low-impact and environmentally conscious development in a region known for its propensity to go in the opposite direction.