The building is located in the Saharan area with both coast and desert. The project tries to conceive a structure suitable not only for the climatic conditions of the site but also to make it integrable within the surrounding urban agglomerations, hiding its military appearance.
Due to the height of the radar tower and its impact on the landscape, the shape of the tower should fit the urban and natural context. Moreover, dealing with a place with a strong Islamic matrix, the design of the tower has to relate to the elegant forms of the minarets.
The structure needed to protect the radar antenna tries to reinterpret the language of Islamic architecture in a contemporary way. We tried to make this structure a possible landmark, a sort of distinctive monument but also a reference point for the urban areas. At the same time, the tower must fit with the requests and expectations of the client, and therefore with all the structural needs to ensure the best functionality of the radar.
Some of the forms we took inspiration from are the curves and movements of the belly dancers.
The clothes and veils are all characteristic elements of Sahel and the desert of North Africa. The idea of the veil as a covering surface allowed us to mask the supporting structure of the tower and protect it from the weather conditions.
(Qur’an: Sura An-Nisa (Women) chapter 30, verse 21): “It is part of His signs that you have created for you, brides, so that you may rest with them, and have established love and tenderness among you. Here indeed are signs for those who respond “(Holy Qur’an, 30:21).
Another reference regarding the supporting structure is the shape of the granaries of Berber architecture.
This form helped us to integrate the geodesic sphere of the radome with the rest of the urban center. Studying the granaries, we decided the position of the openings, which in mark the whole elevation in order to allow access to the light from all the sides. The light radiation is channeled throughout the central body, allowing the lighting of the technical rooms that are positioned below the ground level.
The square plan is the only geometric form used for religious vertical structures in the North African context as it corresponds with the geometry of minarets, granaries but also with the main building types of the context. Looking at the plan, we can see the rotations of various geometries contained in the square.
According to Islamic architecture, the hexagon is the perfect geometric shape, as it is composed of triangles of the same sides and angles. The hexagonal form is mentioned in the Qur’an in the Sura of the Bees, as it recalls the shape of the honeycomb.
(Qur’an: Sura of the bees, chapter 16, verse 69): “A different colored liquid flows from their wombs, in which there is healing for men”. Abu Sa’id said: “A man came to see the Prophet and told him: <<My brother’s bowels are sick>>. <<Give him some honey>>, answered the Prophet. The man gave his brother a potion based honey. Then he came back to the Prophet and said to him: <<I gave him a little drink, but he got worse>>. <<God has told the truth>>, the Prophet replied. <<They are the bowels of your brother that tells lies>>”.
The movement and the sinuosity of the structure are given by a sunscreen solution that recalls the idea of the veil which moves in different directions. The sunblind is made up of rings that surround the supporting structure.
The bands are set up with decorated dowels. The mantle performs also the function of a thermal regulator, to maintain an optimal internal temperature for the operations of the radar system.
The light is conveyed inside the stairwell, and it’s not spread to the basement where the technical rooms and staff rest are positioned. The light enters the premises thanks to the curtain wall that continues till the basement. The luminous result obtained is approximately similar to that of the central courts of the Arab ryads.
The radar is located underground to protect itself from the arid weather conditions and the dust of the desert. In these underground rooms, a little apartment has been reserved for the staff responsible for the control and operation of the system.