The Renewal of Bekhal Area

Nature as an exhibition [Inside out, outside inside]
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Designer(s) : Lana Sarakot Asaad

University : Tishk International University

Tutor(s) : Mr. No'man Bayaty

In today’s world, everyone is busy living in urban environments. We have forgotten our relationship with our natural surroundings. We are spending the Earth’s resources more than ever before. Issues such as global warming and climate change, due to our negligence of nature, have risen. We’ve stopped caring for it. This project tries to merge the lines between architecture and the natural landscape. To combine these two entities to form a whole that balances each other out. Neither has more power than the other. The project aims to fix the problems of the area and to create a space where people can start appreciating our natural environment and start caring for it. When people appreciate something that is when they’ll take care of it. It tries to show people the beauty of nature. So people can learn to appreciate their natural surroundings. This is the aim.

“Nature as the exhibit”

The project is located in Bekhal, which is an area located in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The centrepiece of the site is the natural waterfall that cascades down the mountain. People visit galleries to appreciate art and people who know nothing about art learn to appreciate and understand it when visiting galleries. In this gallery, the natural scenery becomes the exhibit, through the openings of the vertical elements that act as the frames of an art piece each with a different and a new view. The art piece becomes nature itself. The platforms are immersed within this space. Each platform shows the scenery from a different perspective. The platforms keep the view of the waterfall intact without other masses blocking it.

This project asks the question: Can there be a dialogue between architecture and nature? Unlike the architecture of today, where most projects think of architecture as the protagonist of its surroundings. Where the architectural ridges (vertical elements) complete the ridges found on the mountain. Nature and Architecture intertwine. People are immersed in the views due to them merging. The platforms are raised above the ground leaving the ground in its natural state and intact. So it can have the least effect on the natural topography.

A main circular ring goes in and out of the mountain providing different experiences. Smaller inclined rings are located on the waterfall creating a surreal experience, where the horizon line of the viewer is inclined. The project can be extended in the future in the same manner by the addition of platforms that can be used for a variety of different functions. This is possible due to the modular nature of the platforms.

The platforms closest to the road are accessible by ramps. The further you go down the circulation is by stairs due to the nature of the project and its steep slope. The mountain is the main inspiration for the design. Due to its location and the unique qualities of the site, a lot of care was taken to have the least impact on the surface of the mountain. Bekhal waterfall area becomes a place of solace and respite through the viewing of its exhibits.

“Nothing in Nature is random. A thing appears random only through the incompleteness of our knowledge.”

― Baruch Spinoza