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Elegance in simplicity

By Piero Lissoni

The Emirate of Ajman is home to The Oberoi Beach Resort, Al Zorah, a modern architectural masterpiece that creates the ultimate luxury holiday, by design

While a drive from Dubai to any of its neighbouring Emirates is an unforgettable visual experience in itself, when the destination is The Oberoi Beach Resort, Al Zorah, the anticipation and excitement are palpably higher. Located a mere 30 minutes from Dubai, the luxurious resort is a study in inventive, innovative and intelligent aesthetics. Designing the resort in Ajman, I have brought together tradition and innovation, past and present, using an original language and an elementary, pure, poetic architectural form.

Designing the resort in Ajman, I have brought together tradition and innovation, past and present, using an original language and an elementary, pure, poetic architectural form.
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This is a project that appears simple but is actually complex – it had to be studied in every detail and be sustainable as well as respectful of the surrounding area. I have tried to be elegant while maintaining a sense of profound sensitivity towards the natural environment. My inspiration comes from the atmosphere of this magical place. I have designed all the buildings while trying to be courteous to nature, attempting to emphasise the beauty of the area  and capture the perfumes of the Arabian Gulf blending with those of a tropical mangrove forest.

The interior design is sophisticated, but based on simplicity. The use of large, transparent openings and geometrical wood partitions allows the eye to travel freely to the distant horizon. The modern architecture blends with perfumes of the Orient, flavours of India and spicy elements arriving from the Occident, Africa and China, in true Italian style. As an architect and designer, I chose all objects, rugs, photographs and sofas, and ensured that there was no intrusive furniture, so as not to interrupt the sense of transparency between the rooms and the surrounding landscape. I like hybridisation, mistakes and mixes that are not too controlled. I think that a genuine sense of alchemy is generated where a lot of things happen by chance.

The resort has been conceived in pure white, with touches of teal, chartreuse, blue, green and red. Patterned wall tiles in the rooms and dining areas add a playful touch to the elegant design. The structure is divided into three platforms that are parallel to the ocean, and each building has been carefully positioned in accordance with the purpose it is meant to serve. The platforms rise from the oceanfront and the height of the buildings increases with each platform, ensuring uninterrupted views of the ocean from all areas of the resort.

The main hotel comprises a set of separate buildings connected by light walkways, punctuated by shallow water pools extending over the inner courtyard. The latter is also home to the main restaurant. An outer cladding of wood panels complements the wooden furnishings inside, and brings about a play of light and shadow as the day gives way to night.

The Villas at The Oberoi Beach Resort, Al Zorah, are a key element in the resort’s structure and have been designed to seamlessly merge with the larger design aesthetic. The three-bedroom Villas consist of interconnected volumes that are covered in pristine white stucco, and contain a combination of protected terraces and large openings facing the ocean, all offering  spectacular views. The two-bedroom Villas, on the other hand, are formed by deep cantilevering slabs that float over the ground floor to create a series of shaded internal as well as external living areas. Elegant sliding wood panels form a gentle barrier between the interiors and the exterior gardens.

The Oberoi Spa has been conceived as a surprise element – a private and secluded universe, waiting to be discovered. Inspired by the layout of an ancient Medina, it comprises several small buildings placed closely together, each containing a specific amenity and designed as a pure volume. Sleek open-air walkways and double-height volumes surrounding them add an emblematic lightness. The overall mood is inspired by a contemporary approach to traditional oriental architecture.


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