• Hub Architects

Top 10 Buildings in the Desert

Updated: Aug 13

Could you image staying in the harsh dry lands of the Karroo, or any other desert like terrain? One would need to design a building that can withstand the desert conditions, as well as to blend with it's surroundings to produce the best result. Here is Hub Architects list for top ten buildings designed for, and built in deserts around the world.


1. The Desert Lotus


Architects: PLat Architects


Design in a lotus shape to best withstand the harsh desert climate, as well as designed in this shape in order to best maximize the hotel producing it's own water and power, being almost 100% self-sustaining.

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2. The Karroo Wilderness Centre


Architects: Field Architecture


The Karoo Wilderness Centre blends and harmonizes spectacularly with its surrounding Desert environment. The structures’ form was not only designed to blend but also act as a sophisticated rain catching mechanism due to its bowl-shaped like roofs which capture and store rainwater to keep the entire building cool. The use of locally sourced aggregate helped shape the Concrete elements - The way it is layered helps encapsulate the essence of natural strata. Truly a spectacular and well thought-out design.

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3. The Grand Mosque of Djenne


Location: Mali

Architect: Ismaila Traore


The Grand Mosque of Djenne is definitely a grand building that resides over the desert plains of Mali. The Mosque stands 16 metres tall which is quite impressive for that fact that it is only made of sticks and a special mix of mud and other natural elements found in the desert. What’s more interesting is that the building is maintained by the village people, which once a year gathers to heighten the slowly falling walls.

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4. King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre


Architect: Zaha Hadid


This modern laboratory in Riyadh took an abstract twist to minimize energy demands in an extremely harsh environment. Designed with the Muslim faith in mind, the structure was designed with a prayer space, which is the first prayer space to be designed by the renowned woman architect, Zaha Hadid in Saudi Arabia.

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5. The shaharut Resort


Architects: Plesner Architects


The shaharut Resort is a luxury resort in the Israel desert that seamlessly blends with the arid terrain. The architecture behind the resort reflects that of local vernaculars, making use of natural materials, the Interior and exterior are decorated to give the illusion of juxtaposition - the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.

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6. Caracal Eco-Cabin


Architects: mfs+drew architects


A Cabin that was designed to be luxurious yet blends with the Klein Karoo surroundings to allow one to observe Nature undisturbed. The architects used a modern contemporary design style that does not necessarily overshadow its environment; but holds its own elegance and beauty.

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7. The Concave Roofs


Architects: BM Design Studios


The concave Roofs are designed with a double roof system with extreme slopes that resemble bowls. This ‘bowl-like’ shape on the design is a key feature to the building - Its function to capture water and coalesce (come together to form one mass or whole). it before it evaporates in the harsh desert environment. Iran’s evaporation rate is 3 times faster than the world average, making this design very useful.

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8. The Mirage Mirror House


Location: Coachella Desert, USA

Architect: Dough Aitkens


Design to reflect the sun rays, the Mirage Mirror House was also designed to reflect it's surrounding environment, almost perfectly blending at afar, but becomes it's own piece of architecture glory up close.

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9. The Cyberhouse Concept


Architects: Modern Architecture and Design


A concept designed around Elon Musk’s Cybertruck and a post-apocalyptic theme, this fortress has been created to survive even the harshest of desert conditions. The house entrance can fit the Cybertruck which is then lifted to a second floor to be secured. Truly a concept that communicates a futuristic, sleak and modern flare.

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10. Shipwreck Lodge


Location: Namibia, Skeleton Coast

Architect: Nina Maritz Architects


This awesome lodge design found in the middle of the Namibian desert was inspired by the unusual amount of shipwrecks that can be found along the Skelton Coast due to the up rise of sea travellers to Namibia during the Diamond rush in the late 19th century. These luxurious cabins express themselves from the environment in a uniquely composed manner.


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Worthy Mention: Karroo Corbel Houses


Location: Karroo Desert, South Africa

Architects: Dutch Settlers


Using raw stone that is then made perfectly flat is used to build this corbelled house. The composition of the material, making thick walls with it provides both cooling in summer and heat insolation in winter. Building a fire in the structure is just as easy by climbing up to the flat roof portion and removing the topmost flat stone to create a temporary chimney.

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