Entrant: Ed. Zueblin AG
Project owner: Zoo & Aquarium Public Institution in Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort
Project contractor: Ed. Zueblin AG
Engineering consultant: Chalabi Architects & Partners
Architect: Chalabi Architects & Partners

Description: Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre (SZDLC), located in the UAE city of Al Ain, is a project that demonstrates sustainable eco-existence in the region. It has been designed to echo the deserts of the UAE. Set against the backdrop of the Jebel Hafeet mountain, the building’s contours reflect the mountainous terrain and its structure mimics the geographic strata of its surroundings using a series of ramps and levels.

The centre contains interactive displays about the UAE’s wildlife and culture, honouring the legacy of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan and his visionary approach to the environment, wildlife and conservation.

SZDLC’s design is based on several innovative sustainable technologies that have never previously been collectively employed in any other project in the country. The centre is the only project in the UAE to have an Estidama five-pearl rating and a LEED Platinum rating. SZDLC also includes a 200-seat auditorium, an educational library and a cafeteria with an open terrace that overlooks a safari park.