We are thrilled that our landscape design for the House of Wisdom in Sharjah has won Best Landscape Architecture at The Arabian Property Awards. Architects of the iconic building, Foster + Partners also picked up awards for Best Public Service Architecture and Interior.
The landscape design created a connection between the building and the urban context, and a focal point around ‘The Scroll’, a monumental sculpture by Gerry Judah, that marked the Emirate being the UNESCO World Book Capital in 2019. Referencing the cultural significance of the project in making a repository for important books and as a ‘House of Wisdom’, four foundational design pillars were established: Heritage, Culture, Environment and Education. These are reflected throughout the design.
Complementing the formality of the building, a faceted landscape of contemporary angular forms greets the visitor. From this formal arrival experience and events plaza, the landscape divides into a series of more informal outdoor spaces on the visitor’s journey; reinterpreting the classical arabesque gardens, these include gardens of Knowledge, Education, Poetry and Arabic Calligraphy. A series of screens separates these gardens to create more intimate ‘rooms’ while lush shaded courtyards extend the building’s interior spaces. Water is a key feature with a contemporary re-interpretation of a traditional falage (water channel) used to irrigate a palm oasis, and a cooling reflection pool adds drama to the landmark views. Slopes, terraces, ramps and walls provide engaging play for running, jumping and climbing, and learning is enhanced and encouraged through a connection with the planting. A sensitive mix of native and adaptive plants have been carefully chosen to reduce the overall water demand and to create an authentic landscape for the regional context and to help conserve the indigenous flora. Shade trees arranged around the building and smart landscape design features lower the overall energy consumption and water demand. LED lighting enhances the architectural lines in contrast to the warm, softly lit social spaces where, inspired by the function of the library, the exterior benches are accompanied by reading lamps.
Image credit: Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq)