Sacred Reef Research Facility & Resort

Set in an untouched lagoon with one of the most pristine coral reefs on the planet, Sacred Reef establishes a new benchmark for regenerative architecture.

In planning this new eco-tourism destination on the Red Sea, our client conducted a habitat survey of sea, land, and air fauna to understand what needed protection and conservation. With a hypersensitivity towards intervention and building placement, the project team located the buildings between reefs and the shore where no habitat would be disrupted or displaced.

The brief was to create an architecture never seen before, one that would promote the distinctiveness of the site without hampering its vital ecosystem. With such a pristine setting, we opted for an architecture that will hardly be seen—buildings designed to disappear and literally mirror their environment—an approach that places architecture secondary to nature.

The resort and research center features biomorphic forms with highly reflective skin to make them virtually disappear on the horizon. Their light reflectance also assists with the regeneration of the reef below by reflecting light into areas of shadow. Working closely with marine biologists and engineers, we have proposed a pneumatic foundation system to eliminate any need for underwater drilling or digging. Buildings will be prefabricated in shipyards and transported to site before being carefully floated over the reef at high tide, then positioned and locked into place on site for minimal disturbance to the environment. 

The project is completely off the grid, producing all its own energy and water, while consuming all waste in a closed loop. By pushing beyond the boundaries of conventional architectural production, we can uncover unseen potential and manage complex issues—both conceptual and technical. The project finds balance between design, sustainability, and economic viability with an emphasis on constructability.

Guided by our philosophy ‘design follows life, form follows feeling,’ the architecture is not only sensitive and responsive to its setting, but also connects people deeply and meaningfully with each other and with their surroundings. Sacred Reef proposes a hyper-immersed experience of nature—architecture that ‘disappears,’ so inhabitants feel at one with the environment.

Confidential Location, Middle East
365,000 SF
In progress
Masterplanning, Architecture
Project Team
Chad Oppenheim, Timothy Archambault, Kevin McMorris, Alex Lozano, Ana Calderon, Andrea Perelli, Carlos Agelet, Charles Kane, Dagoberto Duarte, Hyejin Yang, Jacobus Bruyning, Jairo Ramirez, Kevin Heidorn, Marcel Montoya, Marie-Pierre Pare, Naaly Pierre, Nicole Rubin, Olivier Montfort, Rasem Kamal
Image Credit
Luxigon, The Boundary

Sacred Reef Research Facility & Resort