Photo credit: The National –
The Sabla Project: Building on past experience
by Nick Leech
The results of the team’s efforts can currently be seen in the Sabla Project, a shelter that is still under development on a patch of waste ground next to the oasis in Al Ain.
The Sabla Project consist of a series of domes constructed from palm fronds that have been bundled together as arches then erected at right angles to form a series of gridshells – lightweight structures whose strength derives from their curvature.
The palm fronds have been harvested directly from the nearby oasis and are neatly bound together, and to each other, with rope that is also made from the palms.
Rather than some obscure exercise in cultural heritage or architectural experimentation, however, the Sabla Project has been designed as a potential solution to some of the developing world’s most serious challenges: climate change, desertification, the increasing scarcity of resources, food security and food waste.
In India alone, 40 per cent of food is wasted because of a lack of adequate places for its shelter and storage.
The architectural prototype exists thanks to the traditional skills of a team of master craftsmen from Abu Dhabi’s Tourism & Culture Authority, contemporary construction knowhow provided by the London-based BuroHappold Engineering and tests conducted in the Structural Engineering Laboratories at Imperial College London.
“What we’ve created is an example of intermediate technology that has made the transition from a small arish hut, something that traditionally measured maybe two metres by six metres, into something that has 500 square metres,” Ms Piesik says.
“What it demonstrates is that the material, when combined with modern architectural and engineering thinking, can do other things that are new and innovative at an urban scale. I think that’s very important.”
Read the full article: The National