Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, Elaine O'Dwyer, Harlequin Arena Group, Pop-up structure, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority

Harlequin Arena designs a pop-up conference facility on the beach in Ras Al Khaimah

Pop-ups structures are no longer limited to retail and f&b concepts. Now, there’s a pop-up conference facility, too, and it’s on the sandy beaches of Ras Al Khaimah. Purpose-built for the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), the 2,700m2 contemporary pavilion will feature various spaces for more than 800 delegates, conference area, networking lounges, meeting areas, sponsor showcase areas, informal beach bar, restaurant among other spaces.

The AHIC team in partnership with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) and the design team at Harlequin Arena Group conceptualised the AHIC Village on the beach at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

The interior flows seamlessly to the outside though the double height glazing which leads to the “Beach Bar”. This allows natural light to stream in creating an energising space where attendees can relax, network and connect. The contemporary design will harness this light airy space and through the use of modern finishes, such as concrete, oak and geometric prints, complimented by comfortable furnishings, lounge seating, architectural feature walls and real trees, create discreet and comfortable networking areas and allow guests to move through the different zones while remaining connected to the natural beachside setting.

Elaine O’Dwyer, design director, Harlequin Arena Group, shares the objective and inspiration behind the project.

The brief on the project was to design and build a bespoke pavilion to host the 2018 AHIC Conference which will be located on the beautiful white sand beach at Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaimah. It needed to be a contemporary style, temporary structure that invites guests to be enjoy the surrounding natural environment both from within the structure and outside on the beach. It also needed to conveniently bring together, the exhibition, conference, networking lounges, sponsor showcase areas alongside restaurant and coffee break facilities under one roof.

The biggest challenges were to ensure the flow between the spaces, encourage networking, connection and conversation among delegates without feeling noisy, crowded or overwhelming. Another consideration was to ensure that the stakeholders met their needs. Choosing the right structures to meet budget and technical logistics for the conference, also presented a set of challenges.

The inspiration for the project came from the various leads the client provided of their preferred restaurants and public spaces. The site and the surrounding colours and textures on the beach also informed the design. The design also had to reflect the branding for the conference.

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