Aidia Studio's low-rise fortress wins Barjeel Museum For Modern Arab Art design competition

Aidia Studio has won the Rifat Chadirji Prize 2019, which sought design proposals for a new Barjeel Museum For Modern Arab Art in Sharjah, UAE.

Established in 2017, the Rifat Chadirji Prize is one competition run by the Tamayouz Excellence Award and seeks ideas that respond to local challenges, as well as to celebrate architecture in the Near East and North Africa.

Aidia's proposal for a building to house Barjeel's collection of art from across the Middle East takes the form of a low-rise monolithic structure resembling a fortress.

Designers Rolando Rodriguez Leal and Natalia Wrzask shied away from a design that was too architecturally extravagant.

Instead, they opted for one in which visitors could immerse themselves, with courtyards, alleys and passages intertwining with gallery spaces.

Galleries inside the building are organized as a circuit around internal courtyards and are sunk below ground level to keep them cool and control the amount of natural light coming in.

Five reinterpreted "barjeels", or wind towers, are integrated into the building in a circular formation and draw air down into its volume from the roof for natural ventilation.

The towers appear as sculptures in their own right from inside and create circular undulations in the geometric pattern of the wooden roof.

This patternation filters light as it enters the public spaces of the museum to create similarly patterned areas of light and shade.

Speaking about the design, the judges said: "This project features elegant graphics and a beautifully thought-through analysis. It very cleverly interprets regional architectural, social and vernacular expressions.

"The roof, made of wood and based on a traditional Emirati weaving structure, generates a contemporary motif that naturally filters daylight and creates surprisingly high – and beautiful – semi-public spaces and landscapes, such as the sculpture route and walkway.

"The woven quality of the roof further allows the walls to be dynamic, as shade patterns created by the sun's changing position during the day dances across them. The walls, therefore, become a festive skin."

Aidia will receive the Rifat Chadirji Prize Statuette and US$5,000 (€4,500, £3,900) for winning the competition. They and the other finalists will be celebrated during Tamayouz Excellence Award’s annual ceremony in December.

Aidia Studio  UAE  museum  competition 
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