Architects win International comp for stunning Modern Art Museum in UAE
A Polish-Mexican duo has won the competition to design the Barjeel Museum for Modern Arab Art in Sharjah.
Their design, which is meant to resemble a “fortress”, blends elements inspired by regional architecture with efforts to keep the building cool and shady.
The new museum, which will display art from across the Middle East, will be built in Sharjah, the third-largest of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
It will be created by the Barjeel Art Foundation, an independent initiative in the UAE that aims to manage and exhibit modern and contemporary Arab Art.
Barjeel’s founder Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, who is a member of the Sharjah ruling family, started collecting art almost two decades ago, hoping to make the works available to the public.
Now the museum will be built by Aidia Studio, which was selected in an international competition.
Based in London and Mexico City, the studio’s name is based on a transliteration of the English word “idea” into Spanish and Polish, the languages of its co-founders, Rolando Rodriguez-Leal and Natalia Wrzask.
A licenced architect in Poland and Britain, Wrzask studied Architecture and Urban Design at the Technical University in Gdańsk, before moving to London.
Since then, she has worked on projects in China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, among others.
She co-founded Aidia Studio in 2018 with Mexican architect Rolando Rodriguez-Leal, who has a similarly international portfolio.
The duo designed the museum to resemble a fortress, “a porous mass which we have meticulously carved to create courtyards, alleys, and passages, intertwined with the galleries”, as they write in their project outline.
Located on the periphery of Sharjah, the low building will be covered with a geometric roof built of wood.
Inspired by Arabic architecture and ancient Emirati weaving traditions, it will add shade to the museum’s courtyards, helping cool them down.
To project the artwork from the sun, the galleries will be below street level, which will also allow the amount of natural light to be controlled.
“This project features elegant graphics and a beautifully thought-through analysis. It very cleverly interprets regional architectural, social and vernacular expressions,” the organisers stated, announcing the competition’s winners.