Serving as a monument and memorial to the UAE’s founding President Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Zayed National Museum will be a focal point of the emerging Saadiyat Island Cultural District. All aspects of the Museum, from architectural design to museum exhibit themes were conceived to reflect the life and values of the late Sheikh Zayed.
The Museum’s striking wing shaped towers were designed to evoke thoughts of a flying falcon to pay homage to Sheikh Zayed’s love of falconry. They act as thermal towers, an integral part of the natural cooling system that draw hot air up and out creating a low pressure flow of cool air from outside in through the museum. This system will cut down on climate control costs and reduce environmental impact, in line with Sheikh Zayed’s advocacy of environmental friendliness. The wing towers will also hold the museum galleries in their bases.
The wings will shoot out of a manmade 30 meter high earth mound, which will house the underground lobby area complete with retail, open performance areas, dining and an auditorium. The underground lobby will take advantage of the thermal effect of the earth, further reducing climate control costs. The entire museum will be surrounded by a body of water to create a distinct cultural landmark amongst many planned for the Cultural District on Saadiyat Island.
The Foster + Partners design is the first of four major art and history centers to be realized in the Cultural District. Frank Ghery’s Guggenheim Museum, Zaha Hadid’s Performing Arts Center, and Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhab are all planned to join the Zayed National Museum over the next five years. The Museum has been under construction since Fall of 2010, and is planned to be completed by 2014.