Photo © Björn Asmussen
Photo © Björn Asmussen
Photo © Björn Asmussen
Photo © Björn Asmussen
Photo © Christian Bauer
Photo © Björn Asmussen

Butterfly Pavilion, Noor Island

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Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Noor Island Park – a fallow island off the coast of desert metropolis Sharjah, transformed into a transmedia landscape park as a new type of urban space. The Butterfly Pavilion with its golden gleaming sunshade roof that is discernible from afar is the architectural centre piece. The impressive, organically shaped steel structure of the butterfly house is covered in thousands of star-shaped metal blossoms, which paint ornamental patterns on the inside glass pavilion as the sunlight shines through them. In addition to a tropical rainforest habitat that is home to some 500 exotic butterflies, the building with the expressive design accommodates a souvenir shop and a café with an atmospheric ambiance.

An oasis of peace and tranquility amidst a sea of high-rises. 3deluxe’s Al Noor Island Park is its answer to the global challenge of creating new urban spaces that are both inspiring and thought-provoking, that include electronic media in their design and that still take their location and its culture seriously. And the result, on Noor Island, is a 21st century landscaped garden where technology meets nature, light meets shade and the modern meets the traditional in a complex spatial experience.

Consisting of three interlocking segments, the roof covers an area of 800 square meters. Visitors find themselves standing inside an organic shell on tree-like steel columns with nine support points around the periphery. It is reminiscent of the cocoon spun by a butterfly. The steel supporting structure is secured by a continuous, 3D edge girder, which absorbs the strain on the roof, and by a network of nodes and triangular connections. The challenge with the steel elements, which were calculated using the finite element method (FEM), was to systemize the 4,000 individual nodes theoretically required in such a way that ultimately only 600 were needed to achieve the correct balance between variation and effectivity. The load-bearing steel structure and the aluminum petals, which are only 3 mm in thickness, converge at every node, adopting a large number of different angle brackets at several levels. Thus a flickering roof of petals emerged, beneath which connections and screw joints run invisibly.

Light is of central importance in Arab culture, and as such particular attention was paid to harmonizing the different shades of gold and degrees of luster in the various materials, thus creating a congruent whole. The challenge here was that the various parts, with their different coatings and colors, have to withstand sun and salt water, in other words, maritime conditions. The steel supports were varnished in a special hue, the nodes powder-coated and the flowers anodized.

In the evenings the building is orchestrated in a special way – the individually controllable LED lamps integrated in the nodes galvanize the supporting structure. Patterns of light make their way across the façade and the pavilion suddenly resembles a swarm of butterflies coming together in ever-changing rhythms before drifting apart again.

820 sqm

Contracting authority
Shurooq, Sharjah, U.A.E. Client: Andre Heller, Artevent GmbH, Austria

Architects/Interior Architects
3deluxe, Germany

Roof construction
Seele middle east, Dubai, U.A.E.

Pavilion construction
Waagner Biro Gulf L.L.C., Dubai, U.A.E.

Interior works
Candido Hermida, Spain

Interior Material
KRION® Solid Surface

HB-Laserkomponenten GmbH, Germany

Greenworks, Dubai, U.A.E.

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