Extraordinary winged museum prepares for flight in Abu Dhabi

Extraordinary winged museum prepares for flight in Abu Dhabi
By: New Atlas Posted On: June 11, 2024 View: 27

Work is nearing completion on an extraordinary new project in Abu Dhabi by prestigious British firm Foster + Partners. Named the Zayed National Museum, the building is defined by five sculpted "wings" designed for more than just their looks – they are cleverly engineered to help keep the interior cool naturally.

First revealed all the way back in 2010, the Zayed National Museum was originally conceived as a monument to the United Arab Emirates' first president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Its winged design is informed by the late leader's love of falconry and also riffs on traditional Islamic motifs.

The main building takes the form of a 30-m (98-ft)-tall "mound" that's inspired by the topography of the UAE. The decorative steel wings rise out of this building to heights of between 83 m (272 ft) to 123 m (403 ft). The wings are quite complex and – bringing to mind the RIBA Stirling Prize winner New Library, Magdalene College – act somewhat like chimneys, naturally drawing hot air up and out of the building.

"The heat at the top of the towers works to draw the air up vertically through the galleries due to the thermal stack effect," explains Foster + Partners. "Air vents open at the top of the wing-shaped towers taking advantage of the negative pressure on the lee of the wing profile to draw the hot air out. Fresh air is also captured at low level and drawn through buried ground-cooling pipes and then released into the museum's lobby."

The Zayed National Museum's interior is centered around a large atrium that's illuminated with indirect natural light
The Zayed National Museum's interior is centered around a large atrium that's illuminated with indirect natural light

Foster + Partners

The interior of the museum is centered around a large and impressive atrium that's illuminated with indirect natural light to avoid it unduly heating the space. On the upper floor, four pod-shaped galleries are installed and form the base of each wing.

Once in operation, the museum's exhibits will detail ancient marine creatures dating back millions of years, early Aramaic coins, and warfare, as well as contemporary culture. Additionally, a landscaped narrative garden will explore key moments in the life of Sheikh Zayed.

The Zayed National Museum is part of a wider development push in the area that includes the amazing Louvre Abu Dhabi and the upcoming Natural History Museum. According to a recent statement by the Emirates News Agency, which also includes a photo of the build progress, the entire development is due to be completed sometime in 2025.

Source: Foster + Partners

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