Miami-based architectural firm Oppenheim Architecture took inspiration from the surrounding desert when designing the new golf club at the Ayla Oasis resort in Aqaba, Jordan.
Home to Jordan’s first 18-hole signature golf course designed by the legendary Greg Norman, the Ayla Golf Club consists of 800,000 square metres of rolling green fairways overlooking Aqaba’s magnificent mountains as well as a 13,000-square-foot clubhouse featuring an unusual but familiar form. The clubhouse features retail, dining, lounge, banquet, spa and wellness components.
Oppenheim’s distinctive design for the clubhouse responds to the undulating dunes of the desertscape while also paying homage to the ancient architectural heritage of the Bedouins. The structure of the clubhouse, which is made up of waves of concrete rising and falling organically, mimics the surrounding vibrant desert landscape, with the building seemingly rising from the desert. The massive shotcrete shell envelops the interior and exterior walls of each volume under one continuous surface that emerges from the sand, while curved openings frame views of the golf course and the Aqaba Mountains in the background.
The architects have also integrated the traditional Arabic window screens (mashrabiyas) into the design, using perforated Corten steel screens featuring Jordanian motifs to filter sunlight into the interiors without compromising privacy.
The Ayla Golf Club was built entirely using native craftsmanship as well as local labour and materials through an iterative process. The workers were taught shotcrete pouring techniques to create the undulating form of the building while a local artist applied a traditional pigmentation technique to the interior surfaces using minerals from the nearby hills to achieve a raw, unpolished look that remains true to its context and character.
Photography by Rory Gardiner