UAE: Have you seen this sand dune-shaped building in Sharjah

Billed as one of region's most sustainable buildings, Beeah's sand-dune shaped headquarters is subject of upcoming documentary

by

Mazhar Farooqui

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Photos: Shihab/KT
Photos: Shihab/KT

Published: Mon 10 Apr 2023, 9:47 PM

Last updated: Tue 24 Oct 2023, 1:25 PM

If you’ve driven along E128 to Al Dhaid in Sharjah, you would have noticed an imposing structure on your right that seems to almost blend with the desert landscape. Shaped like a sand dune, the headquarters of waste management company Beeah is a masterpiece of modern architecture that marries sustainability with functionality in a stunning design.

Last month, the unique space of art was showcased in a National Geographic documentary called Desert Wonder. In case you missed it, you can watch it on Friday, April 14 at 5pm, when it is released on the channel's social media platforms.

The film takes viewers on a captivating journey of the five-year construction process, from the initial design, created by the late Zaha Hadid, to the fully functional office of the future that exists today. The Beeah headquarters which, opened last year, is the third building in the UAE to be designed by the renowned architect before her death in 2016.

Sprawling across 9,000 square meters, the building embodies sustainability at its core, with 40 per cent of its power generated by solar energy integrated with next-generation technologies.

Upon entering, visitors are welcomed by illuminated, sweeping staircases that lead them up to an art gallery on the first floor.

‘We are honoured to be featured on Nat Geo,” said Nada Al Taryam, managing director of civil and architectural projects at Beaah and also the group’s chief real estate officer. “The channel captured the challenges and triumphs of our journey from the early stages of construction to the final product, showcasing the behind-the-scenes efforts that led to this remarkable achievement.

Nada Al Taryam. Photo by Shihab
Nada Al Taryam. Photo by Shihab

Taryam, an architect herself, said it was thrilling to work along side Hadid’s team. “Zaha Hadid was a legend. She took visual clues from the desert landscape of Al Sajaa Sharjah and created something out of the ordinary.”

Sustainability was woven into every aspect of the project, from design to construction and operation, said Taryam. “The design, for instance, incorporates sustainable features, such as high thermal mass that absorbs and dissipates heat, and a curved structure that maximises natural sunlight and minimises the need for artificial lighting,” she explained. “Additionally, an AI system is in place to continuously optimise the building’s efficiency base on occupancy.”

Windows reduce solar glare and special glass cuts radiant thermal energy to keep the building cool in summer while systems are integrated to maintain and improve efficiency. Conference rooms auto-transcribe meeting minutes and email them to participants.

"This has easily got to be the most sustainable and AI-enabled office in the region,” said Taryam.

The exterior of the building features landscaped areas that mimic mini sand dunes and incorporate soft scaping using native plants that thrive in arid landscapes without excessive irrigation.

Taryam said their headquarters is not only a global architectural icon, but also a major milestone for Beeah. “It signifies the company's growth from a local environmental problem-solver to an international holding group with critical businesses for a sustainable future,” she said.

"We have had many brands use our office for photoshoots, and I can't wait to see a Hollywood production house utilise our headquarters as a stunning backdrop."

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