Set in the prehistoric, crimson desert landscape in the UAE, the sturdy 86,000 sq ft Al Faya Lodge built on sand, is a true oasis

AUG 19, 2019 | By Aneesha Bhadri
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT The exterior oxidised Cor-Ten steel and thermally modified American ash wood, sourced from the American Hardwood Export Council, are used in the cladding that opens up to the saltwater pool of the Al Faya Lodge; Hardwood sourced from AHEC is used on the facade; At the entrance of Al Faya Lodge; Photographs by Fernando Guerra
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT View of the desert from the restaurant; A shot of the passageway; Deck chairs allow patrons to relax on the patio; Sunlight streams in from the skylight in all guest rooms; Photographs by Fernando Guerra

Under the expanse of blue skies, crimson and russet sandy swathes stretch as far as the eye can see—such is the dramatic setting of Al Faya Lodge in the UAE. Architect Jonathan Ashmore reimagined a clinic and a grocery store from the 1960s into a boutique resort and restaurant. To build this project, the founder and director of Anarchitect chose a material palette that is contextual to the arid climate of the locale.

Ashmore adds, “Desert sites are exposed to sandstorms, torrential rains and the unrelenting sun. Locally sourced stones, concrete construction and thermally modified American ash wood sourced from American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) on the facade help deal with harsh weather conditions.” Uniform use of the hardwood adds to the resort’s charm, making it the preferred choice for some R&R. Situated near the Emirates’ first petroleum pump, the lodge comprises a reception, library, dining room and roof terrace.All its five guest rooms have skylights for stargazing, while the master suite has the added feature of a private rooftop.

Guests can enjoy a swim in the open-air saltwater pool or choose from a variety of saltwater treatments at the spa. Ashmore says, “Al Faya Lodge is purposely primordial. It allows one to simply exist, absorb and contemplate the surroundings in their own way and time.