The Armed Forces Officers’ Club and Hotel is an existing 600-key 5* hotel complex located opposite the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Collaborating with the Danish design practice, CEBRA, HLM Architects were appointed to redevelop the masterplan and strengthen the facility into a new international destination resort and hotel. This work included designing the extensive refurbishment of the existing facilities in line with the new hotel brand, as well as creating a number of new-build facilities including the country’s largest catering facility, a new banqueting hall (for exhibitions, weddings, conferencing, etc), hotel beach villas, sports clubs, beach clubs and an F&B village.

Design Approach

As a building of local importance and heritage, the brief was developed with the client team and stakeholders to provide visitors with the opportunity to understand and be inspired by Emirati history and heritage, through socially and culturally meaningful world class guest experiences.

Working with the client’s business case and leisure studies, the team’s underlying ambition was to design a masterplan that focused on communication, social interaction and stimulating visitor experiences, all brought together by an innovative, yet locally anchored architectural expression. Based on these ideas, the design response established a dynamic ‘loop’ around the site which wound through a minimal desert landscape, connecting event spaces, functions and buildings together, each of which was expressed with a contemporary interpretation of local heritage themes and architectures, establishing a dynamic village setting. As a connector and integrator, the ‘loop’ pathway adapts its width, materiality and character to suit its immediate surroundings, and allow a variety of activities such as jogging, cycling, or simply walking.

HLM Architects and CEBRA were also appointed to undertake the interior design services for the project, which sought to create a design response to the architectural narrative set out within each building element across the entire site.

Looking for a contemporary architecture that represents modern Emirati identity is a very current line of investigation within the UAE, and this project showcases the design team’s ability to engage with local cultural investigation and expression, to provide an overarching experience within the Emirate.

Currently being constructed on site, the project is scheduled for completion in 2021.

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