The Food Shelter
(The Sabla)

Awarded by The National as the Cultural Innovation Project of 2014 in the United Arab Emirates.


Presented on the 3rd Scientific Conference of The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification 9-12 March 2015 in Mexico.
Combating Drought, Land Degradation and Desertification for Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development. The Contribution of Science, Technology, Traditional Knowledge and Practices.


Located in Al Ain Oasis in the UAE on the UNESCO World Heritage site, The Food Shelter called locally The Sabla is a humanitarian project designed to contribute to social development programs in poorer countries where date palm trees are cultivated. The aim is to utilize palm leaves which would normally be discarded to address the problem of food being wasted due to lack of adequate shelter. In the UAE The Food Shelter significance is in the context of a circular economy and authentic cultural continuity.


It is the first ever large span palm leaf gridshell structure covered with a tensile fabric roof covering.


Project created in collaboration between Dr Sandra Piesik of 3 Ideas Ltd, TCA Al Ain Historic Environment Department, BuroHappold Engineering Ltd, Mehler Texnologies Ltd and Ocma Emirates Industries.


Designboom and The National selected reviews


Forthcoming projects


Women and Children Centre – a multidisciplinary project aimed at the revitalisation of environmental and economic eco-systems of date palm oases in the West Bank, Palestine.


The Listening Building – A project exploring the art of listening. In collaboration with The School of Sound and Education4Peace.