LocationAbu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates
Art Strategy, Design, FabricationUAP
EngineeringRobert Bird Group
Landscape and park master planAecom
Text description provided by the architects. This work exemplifies the power of fusion between art and architecture in a project that conveys purpose and emotion and creates a place of reflection, serenity and significance for its nation.
The conceptual direction of the project was conceived by world renowned artist Idris Khan to “create a park for reflection on both loss and remembrance, a spiritual place that conveyed unity and support - a monument that has positive and hopeful resonance while inspiring curiosity in sculpture and how contemporary art can influence emotions”.
At the heart of Wahat Al Karama park is the MONUMENT which serves as a unifying poetic moment despite its monumentality. The complex structure is comprised of 31 aluminium vertical tablets, the largest soaring 23 metres in height. The tablets appear to gently rest on each other symbolizing the united strength of the seven nations of the UAE. With its impressive scale, the Memorial represents the eternal martyr, a place of reassurance and defiance. Its two front tablets stand vertically and are intended to evoke a sense of humility when approached.
Each tablet was carefully handcrafted by UAP’s design and fabrication team. The 31 tablets are made of a total of 850 cast aluminium panels. UAP’s team used a hand painting technique to achieve a delicate gradient of colour on the surface that captures the light rather than reflecting it.
They feature a series of Arabic poems and quotes from both the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and entice the viewer to read, reflect and touch the artwork, creating a personal relationship with the Memorial.
The PAVILION OF HONOUR marks the end of the memorial journey as a place of reflection and honour. The circular structure is centered by seven standing glass panels by Idris Khan surrounded by a water feature, and 2,800 aluminium plates inscribed with the names of the UAE’s heroes. As a collaboration of artist, curator and architect it is a built expression of the artists practice and the aspirations of the region for its heroes.
“The Pavilion was conceived as a place for reflection and refuge, a place of honour where the visitor ends their journey in quiet contemplation. The layered roof responds to the monument and the massive vernacular of the region and represents the layering of history over time.” Liam Proberts, creative director of bureau^proberts
The landmark also includes the Visitor’s Centre at the entrance and The Memorial Plaza which also serves as an amphitheatre for events. Wahat Al Karama is open to the public every day from 9.00am until midnight. A national public holiday on 30 November honors the lives of fallen soldiers in the present and past conflicts.
Engineering firm AECOM was responsible for the overall design of The Memorial Park.