Qasr al Muwaiji

PrizeWinner in Architectural Design / Heritage Architecture
Firm LocationBoston, United States
CompanyMachado Silvetti
Lead ArchitectJorge Silvetti
Design TeamDaniel Bielenin, Evan Brinkman, Daniel Dwyer, Cheng-Yang Lee, Keely McCown, Max Moore, Noel Murphy, Jose Ribera, Ted Steinemann, Michael Yusem
ClientThe Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage

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.”