A World Apart
The people of Mahé in the Seychelles Islands are the custodians of a remote natural wonder–a place few of them will ever see: the island atoll of Aldabra, located 750 miles away. It’s a natural wonder populated by giant tortoises and tiny souimanga birds — almost no humans allowed. Because so few people can go, DF&A created a visitor center to help them imagine it, even experience it, in some tangential way: Aldabra House.
To mirror the strange shapes made by tide and wind buffeting Aldabra’s coral reefs, DF&A designed Aldabra House to reflect the forces of nature, with the strength of the sun splintering the facade, and, along with the wind, scattering the center across its site. A mangrove nursery hosts some of Aldabra’s famous giant tortoises. But mostly DF&A brings Aldabra to the Seychelles in a less direct fashion, through a curatorial concept that is fragmented and intense–as powerful and elusive as a lagoon that repeatedly vanishes. Experiential pavilions provide the sights, smells, and sounds of the atoll in short bursts, suspending the rules of time and space. One pavilion enables visitors to soar alongside a bird looking down on Aldabra. Another allows them to follow the underwater path of a school of fish. Down into the sea, up into the canopy, and finally out to the mangrove home of Aldabra tortoises. In this way DF&A fashioned an immersive experience of an ineffable place.
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