Aidia Studio reveals plans for desert safari lodges with retractable shell inspired by cacti

by Megan Whitby | 18 Aug 2020

Mexican design firm, Aidia Studio, has unveiled plans for a complex of 25 luxury hotel pods with collapsible shells, located in the Rub’ al Khali Desert in Abu Dhabi.

Called the Oculus, the pod consists of a double-glazed dome encasing a luxury hotel room, which is shrouded by a collapsible shell for shading, temperature control, camouflage and privacy.

The outer shell is made up of 60 shading panels which create a dense lattice to shelter the cabin, drawing inspiration from several desert cacti species which feature thick outer skins, foldings and fins to control heat and solar radiation.

The panels densify towards the crown, to adapt to the curvature of the pod, and in doing so augment their reflective capability from the harsh vertical sun radiation.

This outer layer can morph into different configurations depending on the time of the day, climate and needs of users, and also folds downwards to reveal a frameless acrylic dome for stargazing.

During daytime, the skin retracts sideways opening the front of the pod and unveiling the doors to the front deck.

When the shell is fully deployed, it camouflages the pod among the desert scenery to allow guests to go wildlife spotting from the comfort of their own cabin.

Aidia designers Rolando Rodriguez Leal and Natalia Wrzask acted as lead architects for the project which is currently under concept design stages.

The complex is planned to include both standard (50sq m) or VIP (80sq m) size pods.

According to Aidia Studio, the main goal behind Oculus' design is to improve the environmental performance of the building through self-shading.

The proposed design also includes eco-friendly measures, such as the incorporation of highly flexible dye-sensitised solar cells sewn into the shading fabric as textile electrodes to power the pod, as well as water tanks to filter and recycle greywater.

The Oculus complex is envisioned to be built in the middle of a gravel plane backed by a tall sand dune, with the 25 cabins spread around the site in the shape of a constellation.

Aidia Studio is also planning to create a central hub of four pods with the same design as the cabins but on a larger scale.

The buildings will house a reception and guest toilets, reception lounge, restaurant and kitchen and staff functions, and all be interconnected via transition sleeves and held together by an elevated outdoor deck.

Aidia Studio  Abu Dhabi  UAE  Oculus  Rolando Rodriguez-Leal  Natalia Wrzask 
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Mexican design firm, Aidia Studio, has unveiled plans for a complex of 25 luxury hotel pods with collapsible shells, located in the Rub’ al Khali Desert in Abu Dhabi. Called the Oculus, the pod consists of a double-glazed dome encasing a luxury hotel room, which is shrouded by a collapsible shell for shading, temperature control, camouflage and privacy. The outer shell is made up of 60 shading panels which create
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Called the Oculus, the pods consist of a double-glazed dome encasing a luxury hotel room, which is shrouded by a collapsible shell / AIDIASTUDIO
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Company profile: Willmott Dixon
Willmott Dixon delivers the social infrastructure that people depend on in their daily lives. We partner with our customers to focus on the services they want to provide, not just the building we construct, and we are committed to achieving a higher social purpose through our work.
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