Home » The new Africa Institute in UAE will highlight open air design


Dedicated to the advanced study, research and documentation of Africa and the African diaspora in the Arab world, the Africa Institute in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates recently commissioned Adjaye Associates to design a new 343,175-square-foot campus. The project comes after a two-year collaboration that helped align the architectural components to the institute’s mission.

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The campus will connect four wings using a series of open-air interior courtyards accented with large overhangs to provide shade and lower solar heat. Each wing spans between four and seven stories high, constructed out of low carbon concrete

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A streetview of a series of orange buildings lit up at night.

These open-air courtyards will adorn both the first and second floors of each wing to ensure plenty of access to fresh air and the outdoors regardless of positioning in the building. The courtyards also incorporate water features and planters for native plants to help improve air circulation and provide natural cooling.

An aerial photo of five connected orange structures at dusk.

Not only will the new campus include different types of spaces for various classes and seminars, it also includes a new research library, climate-controlled archive facility, auditorium and performance space, restaurant, cafe and bookstore. The institute will even provide public walkways to connect its property with surrounding institutions.

A semi-covered courtyard with trees and a reflection pool.

“We selected David Adjaye to create the first purpose-built home for this vital institution because of his experience in designing buildings that foster learning, collaboration, and community building,” said The Africa Institute President Hoor Al Qasimi. “We started working together in 2017 so that the vision for The Africa Institute and the building that supports its critical mission would be developed hand-in-hand. David’s ability to create such a beautiful sequence of diverse spaces and welcoming sense of place will make The Africa Institute a nexus for knowledge-building and learning that will serve people in the region and our partners across Africa and around the world for generations to come.” 

People walking through a library with orange ceilings and floors.

The campus is scheduled for completion by 2023.

+ Adjaye Associates

Via ArchDaily

Images courtesy of Adjaye Associates



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