A new geology park has opened in the desert 30 miles south-east of the city of Sharjah, and it's designed to resemble fossilised sea urchins.

Aerial view of visitor centre at Buhais Geology Park
An aerial view of the interpretive centre © Marc Goodwin

Buhais Geology Park Interpretive Centre explores the area’s geological heritage through five interconnected pods, and their design has been inspired by the prehistoric treasures of the Arabian desert. The pods house a sequence of exhibition spaces exploring the area’s geological heritage, as well as an immersive theatre, a café with panoramic views of the dramatic Jebel Buhais range towering behind the centre, a gift shop and other visitor facilities.

The exhibition space at Buhais Geology Park
Buhais Geology Park Interpretive Centre explores the area’s geological heritage © Hopkins Architects

The geology park is located on the former seabed of alMadam Plain, which is a region of exceptional prehistoric and geological significance. The site features an abundance of marine fossils from over 65m years ago, spectacular mountain ranges and ancient burial sites from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages.

Buhais Geoology Park at night
The geology park is located on the former seabed of alMadam Plain ©  Hopkins Architects

The centre uses interactive displays to explore Sharjah’s mountains, sand dunes and the Arabian Gulf’s rich tectonic history over time. In particular, it examines the disappearance of an earlier ocean and the creation of the limestone mountain ranges of Jebel Buhais.

Entrance to Buhais Geology Park
The entrance walkway to the visitor centre © Marc Goodwin

“It is an amazingly beautiful, barren setting, with the Jebel providing a powerful backdrop," says Simon Fraser, principal at Hopkins Architects, designers of the geology park. "We have ensured that our design touches lightly on this fragile landscape, so rich in remarkable fossils and prehistoric burial sites. This exciting new facility will allow thousands of people from all over the world to understand the way in which landscapes are formed by tectonic activities and how the Earth has changed over time.”

Visitor centre viewed from geological trail at Buhais Geology Park
The visitor centre viewed from the geological trail © Marc Goodwin

Though primarily an educational resource, the park is also an important visitor attraction in the area. Visitors and researchers will be given the opportunity to examine local rocks and fossils. There's an outdoor trail linking the pods that is designed to encourage visitors to explore the mountain range, and it incorporates viewing areas, a classroom shaded by a canopy and raised walkways across various geological sites, unusual rock formations and ancient burial grounds.

View of pod roofs at Buhais Geology Park
The area contains unusual rock formations and ancient burial grounds © Marc Goodwin

The geology park joins a suite of learning centres operated by Sharjah’s Environmental Protected Areas Authority. Hopkins Architects is also nearing the completion of a parallel project in Sharjah, the Al Qurum Mangroves Turtles Interpretive Centre, which is due for completion later in 2020.

The café at the Buhais Geology Centre
A seating area at the Buhais Geology Centre © Hopkins Architects

The Buhais Geology Park Interpretive Centre is open from 9am to 7.30pm on Sundays to Thursdays; 2pm to 7.30pm on Fridays and 11am to 7.30pm on Saturdays, and it's closed on Tuesdays.

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