David Adjaye unveils plans for Africa Institute in Sharjah

David Adjaye unveils plans for Africa Institute in Sharjah

Adjaye Associates designs the Africa Institute, a new centre for the study, research and documentation of Africa and the African diaspora in the Arab world, in Sharjah, UAE

The Africa Institute has commissioned David Adjaye and Adjaye Associates for its new, state-of-the-art building in Sharjah, UAE, and the designs have just been revealed. Dominated by strong geometric volumes in soft pink hues, the new Africa Institute is set to become a key centre for the study, research and documentation of Africa and the African diaspora in the Arab world. 

The institute’s new campus, spearheaded by its director Salah M Hassan and president Hoor Al Qasimi, was conceived to be multifunctional and multi-faceted, supporting the busy organisation’s many activities – including international symposia and conferences, art exhibitions, commissions, film, performances, and a higher education programme set to roll out from 2023, alongside a varied public programme. First conceived in 1976 as part of the Symposium on African and Arab Relations, the Africa Institute has been housed up till now in the Africa Hall, a building on site that will be incorporated into the Adjaye Associates scheme.

exterior render visualisation of Africa Institute by David Adjaye

All activities will be located within the colourful design’s four wings, all of which are united by a series of open-air interior courtyards and architectural gardens. The colours and volume arrangement of the structure responds to the region’s land and climatic needs, explains Adjaye. Large overhangs and shaded open-air spaces featuring water elements and planting are designed to ‘enhance the desert typology’ and work with the needs of the natural context. Meanwhile, open entryways connect the site with the urban surroundings. 

‘I am deeply humbled for the opportunity to design The Africa Institute in Sharjah, a project that introduces an entirely new type of thinking and mission into the global academic arena,’ says Adjaye. ‘I envision the new campus as a springboard for the concretisation of the incredible history of Africa, the African diaspora, and the Arab world.’

The new building, finely tuned to support this important institution for critical thinkers in its field, is currently scheduled for completion in 2023. §

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