From rocky ruins to a sustainable resort

51 Wadi Rum Lodge 09

The recently announced Wadi Resort in Wadi Rum, Jordan will be designed by USA-based Oppenheim Architecture + Design and will create 47 desert lodges and villas carved out of the rock face in the desert.

The 80,000 square feet resort is scheduled to open in 2014, and will be a sustainable and luxurious design set amongst a natural environment, including the rock lodge, spa lodge, tent lodge and reserve villa.

Chad Oppenheim, architect and founder of Oppenheim Architecture + Design, plans to make the resort ecologically sensitive and sustainable. He said the idea behind the project is to connect to the location physically, spiritually and culturally.


Oppenheim won the contract thanks to a global competition to design the resort, which is an hour and a half outside of Petra, in the ancient city of the Nebataeans.

“We want to create primitive luxury so that people can really connect to the place. I cannot emphasise that enough,” said Oppenheim.

“Hospitality has gone to a place where everything looks like everything else. Bali looks like the Middle East and vice versa. People see something and then tell their designers they want their projects to look the same way. We are trying to make something unique and expressive. We want our guests to have an experience they have never had before, something that excites them with its utmost luxury and opulence, but in a simple and elemental way,” he said.

The lodges will be carved into sandstone cliffs, using existing geological elements of the rock to control them. Other building elements will be created out of rammed earth and cement mixed with the local red sand, with the interior and exterior design being deliberately blurred.

Oppenheim said the design team will use the natural rock setting to not only create the exterior façade but parts of the interior design elements such as furniture as well.

It will incorporate sustainable design to create cross ventilation, by taking advantage of the natural cooling effect of the rocks. The resort will use passive cooling systems with the lodges, carved deep within the rock, so they will be protected in the summer using natural shading devices. It will also be closed during the hottest and coldest times of the year.

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2 Responses to From rocky ruins to a sustainable resort

  1. Pingback: Wadi Rum resort in Jordan wins award | Design Middle East

  2. Pingback: Architect developing Middle East city for 150,000 people | Design Middle East

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