Sabla:
The Palm-Leaf Shelters

Winner of the Community & Cultural Project of the Year 2015 at The Middle East Architect Awards 2015 and second runner for the Sustainable Project of the Year.

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


Presented during 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, Sabla: The Palm-Leaf Shelters demonstrate implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and COP21 Paris Agreement recommendations on technology development and transfer. The project aim is to contribute to social and economic development in countries where date palm trees are cultivated through technological innovation and the circular economy principles.

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.


Selected reviews:

Designboom , The National , and Construction Week.



Forthcoming projects


The Oasis City. Urban and Rural Areas Integration and Resilience
Building Programme.

A collaborative project aimed at evaluating the interconnection between oasis cities and their rural areas. Devised by Dr Sandra Piesik and the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas ICARDA on behalf of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems.


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.