Butterfly House, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

butterfly house

In Sharjah, the capital of the emirate of the same name, it is not only the traditional buildings that provide examples of Islamic art and culture. As part of the Khalid Lagoon Island Development, a new artistic and constructional interpretation of the traditional designs of Islamic ornamentation was built on Noor Island. In this architectural gem, two intertwining, curving surfaces, covered in golden flowers, surround a glazed butterfly house and a café. In accordance with the design concepts of the 3deluxe design and architectural practice from Wiesbaden, this structure creates a unique atmosphere of light and shade in the building’s interior.

  • The roof of steel and aluminium composite panels appears light and delicate. The curving free-form surface of the roof structure is bordered by 3D-curved circular hollow sections that are supported at nine points only and achieve a clear span of more than 20m over the entrance zone. Between these peripheral members, a triangular lattice of welded steel sections allows plenty of daylight to reach the interior. A golden flower made from an aluminium composite panel decorates every node. This principle is reversed at the edge, where isolated petals are punched out of solid surfaces.

    Backed up by many years of experience in 3D design, seele was able to reproduce the artistic ideas of the architects exactly in a real structure, and was involved throughout, from development to design to erection on site. A wind tunnel simulation determined the loads for the structural system. Owing to the complex geometry of the roof structure, every triangle in the lattice is unique. That would have been the case for the 4,060 petals as well had seele not devised a system that enabled this huge number to be reduced to 50 different types.

    Project images: © Torsten Seidel Photography

3,375 steel sections  4,060 petals made from aluminium composite panels  325sqm 3D-curved peripheral aluminium composite panels  260m 3D-curved circular hollow sections

Butterfly House wins “World Architecture Award” in metal

The Butterfly House project, designed by the architects from 3deluxe, has won the “16 WAN Award” in metal. Impressed by the complexity of this design, the jury commented on the project as follows: “For a metal award, it’s very clever. When you get down to the interlocking of the fixings and filigree of these pieces, it’s amazing. A delicate, sweeping form echoes the characteristics of the inhabitants of this pavilion. The quality of the overall shape carries through to the detailing and finish of its elements, making this a worthy winner.”

The metal enclosure expresses the diversity of the material and its usage in structural, creative and aesthetic terms. Its supporting structure is remarkably delicate, with the 200mm structural members supported at just nine points.

Client Sharjah Investment & Development Authority / Shurooq
Architect 3deluxe
Date of completion 2015
Scope of seele supply
  • Structural calculations, wind tunnel simulation, 3D design, fabrication drawings
  • Development, design and erection of steel envelope

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