Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect is a desert spa with a saltwater pool
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra

Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect is a desert spa and hotel made from stone and steel

Architecture studio Anarchitect has turned a couple of stone buildings in the UAE into Al Faya Lodge, a hotel and saltwater spa in the Sharjah desert.

A complex of buildings now forms the Al Faya Lodge, which sits in the red sands at the foot of Mount Alvaah in the Emirate of Sharjah.

Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra

The pair of stone buildings originally built half a century ago, which once housed a clinic and a grocery shop, have been adapted to become a five-room boutique hotel.

Over the road a new building houses a saltwater spa complete with an open air swimming pool.

Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra

Anarchitect used the striking rust colour of weathered steel to highlight the interventions in the old stone buildings.

This coloured metal was also chosen to echo the rich deposits of iron ore in the area, which is close to one of the first petrol pumps built in the United Arab Emirates.

Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra

"Desert conditions present extreme heat in summer with intense and prolonged sun exposure so it is important to consider these factors when first designing the form and mass of the building," explained Jonathan Ashmore, founder and principal of Anarchitect, which has offices in Dubai and London.

"The selection of suitable and robust materials [goes] hand in hand. Desert sites are exposed to all the elements and not just sunlight. The elements also include driving rain, sand storms and low-temperatures at night."

Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra

Locally sourced concrete and stone were used to build the new structures for the hotel complex. Terraced decks are raised above the level of the sand, with over-sailing roofs and screens providing shade from the hot desert sun.

Polished concrete, granite and travertine were used for durability, while hardwood and plastered-render were chosen as materials that would weather attractively in the extreme climate.

Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra

Each room in the Al Faya Lodge has its own star-gazing skylight, and the master suite has its own private roof terrace. The hotel is designed to be booked in out in its entirety so guests can enjoy the spa and pool in private.

The hotel also has a reception area, a dining room, and an outdoor terrace with a fire pit.

Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra

Dramatic desert landscapes with open skies and harsh climates have inspired many contemporary architects to design strong forms that make use of local materials.

Barclay & Crousse used local stone and reddish cement for a clifftop villa that blends in with the Peruvian desert, and The Ranch Mine built a house in the Arizona desert that pays homage to the work of artist Georgia O'Keefe.

Photography is by Fernando Guerra.


Project credits:

Architect: Anarchitect
Landscape: DesertINK
Furniture procurement: H&H
Spa consultant: The Wellness
Contractor: Alba Tower & Obaid Al Abdi
Joinery: Thomas & McQuaid
Bespoke interior furniture: Anarchitect
Lighting: Deltalight
Outdoor chairs: RODA
Sanitary ware: Kohler
Ironmongery: Manital

More images

Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra
Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, photography by Fernando Guerra