The recently opened Buhais Geology Park in Sharjah is a pioneering project in the field of ecotourism in a region of exceptional prehistoric and geological significance, and has been designed to introduce visitors to the history of the Emirate’s geology.
Designed by Hopkins Architects, GAJ was the MEP consultant providing the design and supervision of the HVAC, electrical systems, plumbing, and firefighting services.
“With a project of such geological importance it required a certain level of technical complexity and expertise to ensure the MEP services were designed in harmony with the centre and its landscape,” said Alaa Abdelmohsen Sayed, partner at Godwin Austen Johnson.
“It was important, therefore, for us to adopt a one-team approach working in close collaboration with the architecture team from the outset.”
Key to the design and execution of the MEP provision was the sustainability of the project and the optimisation of electricity and water energy resources.
The infrastructure was carefully co-ordinated throughout the project to ensure the design of the services were consistent with the architectural vision.
These included the use of low-consumption lighting and the harnessing of natural lighting where possible. The team also employed energy-efficient air conditioning systems.
The main challenge was the distribution for the air-conditioning systems in line with the design intent.
A double wheel energy recovery unit with a total energy recovery wheel, and a sensible heat recovery wheel or heat pipes and horseshoe heat pipes, were installed to provide overall 70% heat recovery.
The low consumption plumbing fixtures, including water taps and water closets, were selected based on green buildings regulations to optimise the water usage.
“Ventilation systems controlled by demand are the most effective at maintaining good levels of indoor air quality without using excessive amounts of energy and in this case the air-handling unit is controlled by CO2 monitoring with each zone provided with CO2 sensors,” said Abdelmohsen Sayed.
The Geology Park is the latest addition to a number of learning centres operated by Sharjah’s Environmental Protected Areas Authority which aims to provide educational experiences to visitors.