Al Khan Resort’s interiors, a breathtaking sea-inspired space designed by interior design firm, Studio M, offers a lesson in the concept of sense of place in architecture; beautifully echoing the past and present of its Sharjah, UAE, beachside location.
Having stumbled upon Studio M’s Al Khan Resort prototype in early 2015, the team at Made Journal have long been mesmerised by the project’s pared-back palette of neutrals and tempered use of natural materials.
Al Khan is a very old area within the Emirate of Sharjah, which flourished throughout time as a fishermen’s village. Having reached a mature state in the 1950s and 1960s, many local inhabitants moved away to a more modern lifestyle. The main building materials within the traditional village consisted of coral stone, traditional mortar, layers of wood, and palm fronds. Studio M’s Al Khan Resort prototype arose amid plans by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) to restore and transform the village into a resort, aiming to showcase its charm through an experience that embodies the essence of the traditional Al Khan room with a contemporary twist.
The resort’s master plan consists of a private five star resort and a public realm encompassing a Souq, museums, mosques and fortified towers. The prototype villa is a two bedroom house with a small pantry and a Majlis (Emirati living space) that covers an area of approximately 279 sq. m.
Inspired by the waves of the sea and the lifestyle of Emirati fisherman, Studio M’s Al Khan interiors manifest this concept in a sleek and contemporary approach. The colour palette utilised within the interiors reflects the serenity and earthiness of the sand combined with rich accents of blue mimicking the hues of waves as they ebb and flow onto the beach.
A unique addition to the palette is the plaid pattern used on cushions and throws, traditionally seen in the clothing of old fisherman. Small details such as the haphazard layout of rugs and the incorporation of rope-like textures links these interiors to the area’s predecessors in subtle and elegant ways. The furniture utilised complements these themes to create balance between old and new.
As is with design, challenges create opportunities for innovation. According to Studio M, a wonderful opportunity arose from the remnants of the site’s existing fabric. Bridging together the existing structure and marrying it with contemporary five-star interiors yielded a rich juxtaposition that serves the experience impeccably. The design philosophy chosen to facilitate this process steers away from touching the walls with their beautiful inherent pattern.
Architect – Godwin Austen Johnson
All photography by Maha Nasra Edde