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Taking a page from the houses of Cappadocia in Turkey and, much closer to home, the fabled city of Petra, an architectural firm designed an eco resort built into the sandstone cliffs of Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert.

Chad Oppenheimer designed 47 desert lodges carved directly into the cliffs for the Wadi Rum Resort, set to open in 2014.

Traditionally tourists visit Wadi Rum and stay in tented camps under the stars, Bedouin-style. Oppenheimer Architecture + Design wanted to keep the same relationship with nature, and renderings of the resort make it look pretty seamless with the landscape. Many of the guest spaces will be hewn from natural spaces in the sandstone cliff and walled with glass. Other areas and structures are to be made from earth, cement and the local red sand. Because temperatures inside the rock are much cooler, this will mean there is less need for traditional energy-sucking cooling and ventilation. Rainwater will be held in underground cisterns and grey water will be recycled.

The effect is striking and no doubt a stay here would be unique. But is it actually as green as the architect says? The site is remote, an hour and a half from Petra, making building the lodge a complicated project. And the thought of carving up an ancient cliff to house a boutique hotel gives any landscape lover pause. Wadi Rum is a fragile treasure, one that is already under pressure from tourists on camel and in jeeps, trekkers and illegal hunters. There is a scheme in the works from the Jordanian government to divide Wadi Rum into a free access zone and a wilderness zone. Does blasting a cliff to build a hotel fit into these plans? Leave a comment on our Facebook page.

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