Architecture in Dialogue: The Aga Khan Award for Architecture


The remarkably simple building has two wings. The first one contains administrative and educational spaces, while the other accommodates the observation galleries. / Photo © X-Architects / Nelson Garrido
The remarkably simple building has two wings. The first one contains administrative and educational spaces, while the other accommodates the observation galleries. / Photo © X-Architects / Nelson Garrido

Wasit Wetland Centre

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

The Wasit Wetland Centre is a design that transformed a wasteland into a wetland and functioned as a catalyst for biodiversity and environmental education. While its indigenous ecosystem has been restored, it has also proven to be a popular place for visitors to appreciate and learn about their natural environment.

Architect: X-Architects, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Client: Environment and Protected Areas Authority, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

The centre blends with the environment, minimizing its visual impact on the surroundings. / Photo © Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Cemal Emden
The centre blends with the environment, minimizing its visual impact on the surroundings. / Photo © Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Cemal Emden


The entrance offers an area for children and schoolchildren to take part in educational activities. / Photo © Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Cemal Emden The entrance offers an area for children and schoolchildren to take part in educational activities. / Photo © Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Cemal Emden

“We wanted to make something beautiful, sensible and try as much as possible to integrate the site by really merging this project on the site, making a beautiful kind of sensible—let’s say strategies—by bringing nature all the way to the grass here and you are almost, with this complete façade, you are merged in this kind of wonderful atmosphere of birds. You are in their world.”

—Ahmed Al-Ali, Architect

The dividing wall between the galleries hides all the services and provides surface for awareness and educational material. / Photo © Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Cemal Emden The dividing wall between the galleries hides all the services and provides surface for awareness and educational material. / Photo © Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Cemal Emden

Large areas of the centre are dedicated to educational activities. / Photo © Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Cemal Emden Large areas of the centre are dedicated to educational activities. / Photo © Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Cemal Emden

Part of the experience of the centre is being outdoors, where the visitors can walk or move around in golf carts to experience the wetlands. / Photo © Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Cemal Emden Part of the experience of the centre is being outdoors, where the visitors can walk or move around in golf carts to experience the wetlands. / Photo © Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Cemal Emden

Site plan. / Photo © X-Architects / Nelson Garrido Site plan. / Photo © X-Architects / Nelson Garrido

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