The Butterfly Aviary on Al Noor Island in the United Arab Emirates by 3Deluxe

Al noor island is one of the latest tourist attractions to be built in the capital city of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates. The man-made isle was designed by austrian artist andré heller, and hosts a range of features, including this 230 sqm ‘butterfly pavillion’ which houses the ‘butterfly aviary’, both designed by german studio 3deluxe.

The Butterfly Aviary is located at the center of the Butterfly Pavilion, shaded by its defining golden roof. The polygonal architecture is an artificial eco-system, and its rainforest biotope – populated with countless butterflies – is housed inside a sealed climate skin. The biosphere’s steel structure is clad with an all glass façade construction, providing just a minimal barrier between inside and outside. Organic skylights provide spectacular views into the shading structure and allow shadows of the golden leaves to enter the aviary. The light that enters and the shadows this creates define the mood inside the biotope.

The rainforest biotope covers 230m2 and boasts a spectacular landscape. Over 500 exotic butterflies – flown in from Malaysia twice a week – thrive in this biosphere and can be observed during all stages of their development. The crystalline glass structure’s ceiling is between 3,5 and 5,5 m high. The all-over glazing merges floor and ceiling, a glance to the above reveals organically shaped skylights and the golden shading roof on top.

The Butterfly Aviary illustrates 3deluxe’s design principle of “Multilayered Atmospheres”.

Inside, an undulating landscape made of thermoformed mineral material Krion merges horizontal and vertical. The three- dimensional puzzle was manufactured in a technically sophisticated process and assembled on site. Plant tubs are integrated in its shape, visitors enter an all-over of walls, floor and ceiling.

Wooden paths lead through an artificial landscape that eliminates all boundaries of traditional spaces. The mineral material is printed with patterns and ornaments repeated from the golden shading roof, and backlit in some places. A three-dimensional graphic was created by means of a special sublimation print. Nature seems to be growing from the floral print of the material that appears to be ground or vertical garden, depending on the position.

The butterflies thriving within this sphere have an average lifespan of about a week after hatching from their cocoons. It is all the more effortful to sustain the climate conditions essential for their wellbeing.

3deluxe have created a biotope with a constant room temperature of 26°C and high atmospheric humidity. Visitors have the opportunity to encounter the flying insects at close range, for instance at one of the feeding sites with sugar water and fruit. The gaze follows them and loses itself in plants, leaves and ornaments of the tropical world.

In the Butterfly Aviary, layers and superimpositions of shadows, projections, real and printed plants, shimmering colors and soundless butterfly wings, all of them organic, integral, in motion, established categories of wall, floor, ceiling dissolved in shimmering motion. The natural becomes artificial – the anthropogenic resembles nature.


  • Architects: 3deluxe
  • Location: Al Noor Island – Sharjah – United Arab Emirates
  • Area: 230.0 sqm
  • Photographs: JoaquínBusch, BjörnAsmussen, ChristianBauer, CandidoHermida
  • Contracting authority: Shurooq, Sharjah, U.A.E
  • Interior Architects: 3deluxe, Germany
  • Roof construction: Seele Middle East, Dubai, U.A.E.
  • Pavilion construction: Waagner Biro Gulf L.L.C., Dubai, U.A.E.
  • Interior works: Candido Hermida, Spain
  • Interior Material: Krion
  • Planting: Greenworks, Dubai, U.A.
  • Client: Andre Heller, Artevent GmbH, Austria
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