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The most fashionable African architect’s latest creation in the United Arab Emirates

British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye is globally well known for his creations all around the world, such as the Skolkovo School of Management in Moscow, Russia, the National Cathedral of Ghana in the city Accra, and the Wall Street Tower in the heart of Manhattan, New York. He is to build his next project, the Institute of African Culture, Research and Documentation, in the United Arab Emirates in 2023.

Sharjah is often referred to as the cultural capital of the UAE, and it is here that the new Africa Institute will be built to promote Arab-African exchanges in all their diversity. According to director Salah Hassan, “Sharjah is ideally situated to house this institute (…) this area has been the scene of the mixing of populations across the Indian Ocean”.

The current building is from 1976 – the Africa Hall – but a metamorphosis is needed as the center aims to become one of the world’s leading sources for the dissemination of African culture and its links with the Arab world.

Photos and a virtual tour of the new five-building structure are available on the Adjaye Associates website, and reveal an original, airy, completely pink building with a surface area over 31,000 square feet.

Not a first

This is not the first time the architect has designed pink buildings (see The Webster, a trendy boutique in Los Angeles or the contemporary art center Ruby City in San Antonio, Texas), but this choice mixes aesthetics and functionality.

Indeed, the concrete and the pale color of the campus will absorb very little of the heat that can exceed 40 degrees in the summer in the region. David Adjaye’s concept for the center is therefore to incorporate the geographical and climatic requirements: he uses the image of an oasis to describe this new space for academic and cultural exchanges and meetings. Thus, the 5 buildings will be separated by gardens and interior courtyards.

A very fine achievement for the artist, described as “one of the leading architects of his generation and a global cultural ambassador for the UK” and who was for this, offered the knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017.