Foster + Partners has released their design for a library and cultural center alongside The Scroll, a new piece of public art by British sculptor Gerry Judah. Called the House of Wisdom, the project coincides with Sharjah being named this year’s UNESCO World Book Capital. Aiming to be a new cultural quarter in the city, the House of Wisdom was made to establish and retain connections with the outside.
Located on the Sharjah International Airport Road, ten kilometers from the city center, the two-story library and cultural center features a large floating roof cantilevering on all sides of a transparent rectilinear volume. The 15-meter-wide overhang shades the façades throughout most of the day, while aluminium screens are designed to filter the low sun in the evenings. The ground floor will contain large spaces for exhibitions, a café alongside a children’s educational space, and the archive and a reading area.
Gerard Evenden, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners said: “Long considered primarily as repositories for books and periodicals, the role of libraries in the life of contemporary communities is set to be reimagined for the 21st century. The House of Wisdom conceptualises the library as a social hub for learning, supported by innovation and technology. Gerry’s sculpture is a perfect complement to the minimalist geometry of our building. We look forward to the building’s completion, which will give the local communities and scholars a new space for shared learning and innovative research, set within a beautiful landscape.”
The landscape is divided into two sections – a knowledge garden and children’s playground to the south, which has several native species and a water feature, alongside a more formal, geometrically arranged garden to the north containing The Scroll – a contemporary interpretation of the ancient Arabic scrolls as a single, spiralling sculpture that loops towards the sky. Using a form of geometry called ‘developable surface’, the curved shell was created from rolled steel plates, cut by lasers guided by computer control, welded together and painted with multiple layers to protect the steel from sandstorms and weather erosion.
The Scroll and the House of Wisdom are being developed by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq). No completion date has been announced.
News via Foster + Partners