Saadiyat Island is 500 metres off the coast of Abu Dhabi, and is the largest single mixed-use development in the Arabian Gulf.
"It has been a great privilege to work on the Zayed National Museum, to carry forward Sheikh Zayed's vision and to communicate the dynamic character or a contemporary United Arab Emirates," said Lord Norman Foster, chairman and founder of Foster+Partners. "We have sought to establish a building that will be an exemplar of sustainable design, resonating with Sheikh Zayed's love of nature and his wider heritage."
The museum architecture aims to combine a highly efficient, contemporary form with elements of traditional Arabic design and hospitality to create a museum that is sustainable, welcoming and culturally of its place, the firm revealed.
The museum is set within a landscaped garden based on Sheikh Zayed's timeline of his life and to celebrate his love for nature.
The display spaces are housed within a man-made, landscaped mold and the galleries are placed at bases of five solar themal towers. The towers heat up and act as thermal chimneys to draw cool air current naturally through the museum. Fresh air is capture at low level and drawn through buried ground-cooling pipes and then released into the museum's lobby.
The towers are aerodynamically designed to work like feathers of a bird's wings, which is directly related to Sheikh Zayed's love of falconry. The lobby is dug into the earth to exploit its thermal properties will contain various shops, cafes, an auditorium and informal venues for performances of poetry and dance.
Throughout the museum the treatment of light and shade draws on a tradition of discreet, carefully positioned openings, which capture and direct the region's intense sunlight to illuminate and animate the interior spaces.
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