Qasr al Muwaiji

Prize Winner in Architectural Design / Heritage Architecture
Firm LocationBoston, United States
CompanyMachado Silvetti
Lead DesignerJorge Silvetti
Design TeamDaniel Bielenin, Evan Brinkman, Daniel Dwyer, Cheng-Yang Lee, Keely McCown, Max Moore, Noel Murphy, Jose Ribera, Ted Steinemann, Michael Yusem

The adaptive reuse and addition to Qasr al Muwaiji, a historic fort and grounds within the city of Al Ain, is intended to serve as an exhibition facility and cultural monument. The Fort is recognized as a significant archeological and historical artifact. Originally intended as a means of defense for the surrounding oasis, the Fort is the birthplace of the UAE President, Khalifa Bin Zayed al Nahyan. The primary design challenge of the project was the need to balance the preservation of the Fort—its unique character and archeological remains—while introducing a new building within its empty court. The Pavilion and programs are “camouflaged” throughout the site to minimize their physical and visual impact. The Pavilion is rendered with a minimal expression of glass volumes, raised slightly above the ground-plane to appear light, unobtrusive and respectful of its historical host. To preserve the archeological remains of the site, the foundation’s depth was limited to twenty centimeters; from a structural point of view, the building is resting on the ground, utilizing a concrete raft and cantilevered steel columns. The architecture’s rhetoric makes a point of saying “this is a building that truly floats.”