Architect Rasam Kamal has proposed an underground complex for Jordan’s Wadi Rum, a UNESCO-protected heritage valley in the desert.
The 18,000m2 site was part of Kamal’s thesis at the Rice School of Architecture in Texas, who is now working as an architect and designer at the Oppenheim Architecture Basel office.
The Wadi Excavated Sanctuaries will contain a train station, museum and hotel, and will be located underground to maintain the appearance of the desert site.
The location itself is made up of a vast stretch of desert edged with colourful sandstone mountains in the south of the country.
“This project represents the architectural product of a thesis that focuses on subtraction not addition, subtracting voids and spatial volumes according to users’ need of functions, circulation and natural light,” said Kamal.
“These voids could be excavated in the natural ground in order to create a concealed and non-distracting architectural presence above ground, along with an unlimited flexibility to subtract underground,” he said.
The firm had previously proposed building 47 desert lodges and villas carved out of the rock face in the desert.
The underground amenities will serve as infrastructure to support its first concept for the area.
“Lately, a great many prominent architectural practices have been focusing on developing dynamic forms, new building materials, sophisticated details and tectonics as well, while only the minority of these contribute to their internal spaces,” explained Kamal.
“Consequently, this thesis aimed to flip the relationship between the explicit and implicit, by diminishing the power of external form along with exploiting all the previous efforts that were used for it to subtract spaces where we will live, experience and enjoy,” he added.
The concept is based on ant nests, where visitors can access the underground offerings by courtyards that are unique and based on the topography of the site and natural light.