Once, the idea of the resort was to provide a momentary escape from everyday hardships; an earthly preview of paradise for temporary consumption .
But in the UAE, where the resort has become the ubiquitous condition, everywhere and ever present, it is the resort itself that is beginning to inspire escape.
The mountains of Ras Al Khaimah present a spectacular natural setting. To enter the rugged landscape of these mountains still feels like breaking new ground.
Rather than domesticating these barren slopes into the standard environment of the traditional resort, this project aims to create a resort that exploits their true natural condition.
The resort proposes a path that deliberately navigates the mountain to connect the most dramatic points, capturing a diverse range of conditions. Development clings to the path allowing the majority of the site to remain untouched, preserving the natural integrity of the mountain.
Villas are the first component of development implemented along the path. Repeated continuously for the full 10km stretch, the villas articulate the trajectory of the resort. Ten specific moments along the path interrupt the line of villas. Each moment is chosen for its unique topography. These interventions respond to the surrounding site, further capitalizing on the natural assets of the mountains.
1 The Modern Villa
Democratically distributed along the length of the path, the modern villas exploit the exceptional site as much as possible. The linear development enables them to claim unencumbered views of undisturbed terrain. Gardens are incorporated into the villas - as a standard part of the program like the kitchen or living room - eliminating the need for the domestication of land. Instead of an artificial landscape of manicured gardens, residents are offered their own slice of the mountain, engaging with the natural landscape.
6 The Cliff City
Tumbling over the edge of the mountain, the cliff city forms a dense and urban center at the highest point of the site. Traditional city streets are replaced by a series of stepped terraces, interconnected by a network of stairs and narrow alleys linking the various levels. Perched high on the edge of the cliff, a mix of residential, commercial and public uses enjoy uninterrupted views towards Oman.
11 The Suspension Unit
Fastened to the side of the mountain, the suspension unit offer the most extreme mountain experience whilst providing all the comforts of a resort. Accessible by funiculars and elevators, each villa is suspended out over a sheer drop to capture panoramic views over the mountains to the Arabian Gulf.
8 The Dam
A feat of engineering, the curving arc of the dam spans across a valley. Its roof doubles as a road forming an integral part of the path. Filled with apartment and hotel units, the dam continues the surrounding rock walls of the valley.
4 The Outcrop
Sited on a promontory, the Outcrop is a series of courtyard buildings embedded in the slope, each building angled towards the landscape. The seemingly haphazard arrangement optimizes view angles whilst allowing vertical connections between the courtyards. The courtyards are filled with gardens, sporting activities, cafes and pools. , Each building benefits from the expansive views of the mountain and the contained views of the interior courtyards.
3 The Wedge
The Wedge is like an extension of the mountain. From street level it appears as an inclined plane projecting out over the valley. This serves as a public plaza that can be programmed with a variety of activities such as an outdoor cinema, performance venue, or event space. Below, a ramping circuit descends through the building connecting the plaza to a hotel, apartments, community center, commercial areas and the cable car terminus.
10 The Cantilever
Jutting out of the mountain towards the Arabian Gulf, the Cantilever is the first building visible from the road and serves as the reception point and information center for the resort. It also houses the starting terminal for the cable car, connecting guests and residents to the other centers of attraction.
7 The Cliffscrapers
The cliffscrapers is a series of inverted towers of varying heights that cling to the mountain, dropping down to anchor into the cliff below. A network of interconnected spaces bridge and cantilever from the towers, vertically interspersing and staggering communal spaces and public terraces amongst the individual apartments and luxury hotel rooms.
2 The Terraces
In a stepped and staggered configuration The Terraces replicate the terrain in a series of habitable roof gardens with unobstructed views. Filled with pools, cafes, and patios these roof areas extend the interior spaces out to the exterior. Each individual unit is provided with direct access to its own private roof garden, while public areas have the opportunity to spill outdoors.
Like a pixelated carpet over the landscape these modular units form a geometric abstraction of the natural terrain. Sited in a moderate to steep area, dwellings step down the mountain to create a series of connected roof terraces. Within this arrangement there are individual stand-alone villas, or buildings can be clustered together to form larger villas or even small resorts.
9 The Bridge
The bridge creates a shortcut by connecting two high points separated by a gully. Forming a secondary path, the middle level of the building is an outdoor area that functions as the entrance to the building, providing access to the levels above and below. The roof of the building accommodates a long rectangular park that cuts through the barren landscape.
A gondola ropeway creates shortcuts connecting the moments along the path. It provides an alternative means for both visitors and residents to travel between activities and sights and from home to work. Spanning across a sheer drop, the cable car is a spectacular sight and provides a unique experience in itself..
Funiculars and inclined elevators provide access to the areas of the terrain inaccessible by vehicles, such as the suspension units