Old scroll, new geometries: House of Wisdom by Foster + Partners
Client: Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq)
Architects: Foster + Partners
Location: Sharjah (AE)
During the festive inauguration of Sharjah's role as this year's UNESCO World Book Capital, Foster + Partners revealed its initial design for the House of Wisdom, a library that is to lay the foundation for a new cultural quarter in the United Arab Emirates city.
Altogether four core units support the completely column-free structure of the House of Wisdom. The roof rests on a transparent volume and projects on all sides; the overhang shades the facades during the day while moveable screens made of aluminium shield the exterior from the low-lying sun in the evening hours. Collective areas, reading corners and smaller exhibition spaces are evenly distributed on two floors around a central interior court.
The library grounds are divided into two main sections: the Garden of Knowledge and a children's playground in the south, and in the north an area conceived as a sculpture garden, where the highlight undoubtedly consists of "The Scroll". Designed by the British artist Gerry Judah, the contemporary interpretation of an old Arabian scroll complements the rectilinear geometry of the House of Wisdom.