Al Bait Sharjah
The primary aim of the development – from an urban design point of view – was to re-create the intimacy and character of an historic village, with narrow streets, open courtyards and secluded entrance ways and weave these into the guest experience. Just as residents of old would have negotiated these streets to get to their homes, stopping at the square to meet friends and then retiring into the privacy and sanctuary of their homes, so the guest will be able to retrace their footprints every time they step out of the sanctuary of the individual guest room blocks and into the ‘public’ streets.
In order to give the guests the true feeling of the heritage aspect of the development, the rooms have been kept to the specific proportions of the old village homes – governed by the availability of structural timbers – with limited openings due to privacy and timber ceilings. Low built-in seating has also employed in certain areas in the guest rooms as were recessed alcoves for displaying items. The external walls have been kept thicker than usual to accommodate these.
In keeping with the homogenous nature of the traditional buildings, the material finishes have been kept to a certain colour and finish with the rougher textures blending into a smoother more luxurious finish for the interiors. This enables the resort to look like it belongs within the existing urban fabric whilst retaining the luxury and expectations of an upscale property. Each residential block contains ten rooms located around a small intimate courtyard. Links between these blocks and the main building, housing the all-day dining, spa and pool, are via the public streets on the ground level or via connected walkways at first floor level.
The interior design approach is split into two distinct treatments, based on whether the rooms are part of the historic renovated buildings or part of the new insertions. In the heritage rooms, the traditional ceilings complete with plaster cornices have been used as well as timber shutters and doors. In the new rooms, the finishes are a little more refined and pared down to create more of a contemporary take on the traditional materials. Lighting is discreet and aimed at recreating the ambiance of the old village rather than simply illuminating the development.