Exploration Architecture


Sahara Forest Project & Pilot Facility


The Sahara Forest Project is a new environmental solution to create re-vegetation and green jobs through profitable production of food, water, clean electricity and biomass in desert areas. Exploration jointly initiated the Sahara Forest Project in 2008 and assembled the initial group of collaborators which later became formalised as a stand-alone company ‘Sahara Forest Project AS’ based in Oslo.

The core technologies are firstly a seawater-cooled greenhouse inspired by the Namibian fog-basking beetle, secondly photovoltaic and concentrated solar power technologies and thirdly desert revegatation techniques. Secondary technologies include algae for biofuels, salt processing to extract valuable elements and compounds, halophytes (plants that can grow directly in seawater), and BioRock™ (electro-deposition of minerals).

In 2012 Exploration project managed the construction of the first built version of the Sahara Forest Project – a one hectare Pilot Facility in Qatar including a parabolic trough CSP collector and a photovoltaic array. The team has been testing all the proposed technologies and refining the synergies between them in preparation for the next stage which is proposed as a 20 hectare Test and Demonstration Centre.

The results from the 1 hectare Pilot Facility have provided the information necessary to proceed towards establishing a 20 hectare Sahara Forest Project Test and Demonstration Centre. The greenhouses achieved productivity levels equal to commercial greenhouses in Europe (75kg/m2/yr) with half the amount of fresh water of conventional approaches. A facility with 60 hectares of greenhouses could provide all the cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and aubergines currently imported into Qatar.

Exploration created a film about the Sahara Forest Project for the Designing with Nature Exhibition at the Architecture Foundation in 2014. The film describes some of the key ideas behind the project, including the Namibian fog-basking beetle, and shows the first built version of the idea - The Sahara Forest Pilot Facility - opened by th Emir of Qatar in December 2012. 


Project core team: Sahara Forest Project AS, Yara International AS, QAFCO, Exploration Architecture (lead designer & project manager), Max Fordham LLP

The SFP Foundation and SFP Company are organisations established to deliver concrete initiatives for restorative growth 


  • Partner Yara / Qafco
  • Client Sahara Forest Project AS
  • Architect Exploration
  • Engineer Bill Watts
  • Scientific Partner The Bellona Foundation