500 miles west of Beijing, deep in the Gobi Desert, PLaTArchitects have designed a new hotel made specifically for sand. The designers compare the structure to a boat floating in water; the base rests on containers of shifting sand that keep the building stable because the sand moves in and out with equal force. Unlike standard buildings, the structural system uses no concrete or water.
The triangles that repeat throughout the building help provide shade and shelter from the wind, while making the structure stronger. It's also intended to blend into the local landscape. Inside the hotel, the walls are covered in local desert sand.
Construction will finish in March. The architects are planning more desert architecture, and aiming for net-zero buildings that generate their own electricity and water. They're also planning sustainable desert tourism.
It's a beautiful building, but raises some interesting questions. Do we need to develop empty natural spaces like this? Even if the architects carefully design the building to operate as sustainably as possible, how much energy will it take to build a hotel so far from civilization? How much energy will it take just for a hotel guest to get there?
Images courtesy of PLaTArchitects