We directed a landmark project for the UAE: the design and construction of the prestigious new Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy. Established in Abu Dhabi, right at the heart of the city’s diplomatic district, this facility was conceived to support the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry through the education of young diplomats and government leaders.
As a facility meant to cultivate the representation of the UAE’s national interests, it was important that the design be rooted in Arab tradition and culture. This led to the creation of an introverted building, with a play of outer opacity and internal transparency serving as a major motif.
At the same time, nurturing the relationships necessary for diplomacy requires an openess to the world. This characteristic has been expressed through the large, welcoming glazed portals on either side of the cubic form, as well as the proliferation of communal and collaborative spaces, and the site’s borderless integration into its surroundings.
The building’s envelope has been designed to combat the harsh elements of the regional climate, while also representing the nation’s strength. Robust, solid shaping defines the silhouette. Simplicity of form can be seen in the cubic mass housing both classrooms and offices for staff and faculty. Three portions of the mass extend outward, continuing the solidarity of the building’s shape.
Concerns of sustainability are addressed via the double skin façade. A high-performance glazing system acts as a first defense against solar heat gain, doubled by an outer skin of perforated aluminum screens. These panels diffuse sunlight throughout the interior, without obstructing views.
Each side of the building is encapsulated by different panel fold patterns, creating a unique rhythm of shadow and light that evolves throughout the day. Installations such as this and a rooftop garden have helped the building achieve a 2 Pearl Estidama sustainability rating.