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Adjaye Associates will design The Africa Institute in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Higher Education

Adjaye Associates will design The Africa Institute in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

The campus design will be unveiled on Oct. 8.


By David Malone, Associate Editor | September 15, 2020
Salah Hassan, Hoor Al Qasimi, and Sir David Adjaye

Left: Salah M. Hassan. Courtesy of Cornell University. Photo by Jason Koski. Centre: Hoor Al Qasimi. Photo by Sebastian Böttcher. Right: Sir David Adjaye OBE, Founder of Adjaye Associates © Chris Schwagga.

Adjaye Associates will design a new campus in downtown Sharjah for The Africa Institute. The Institute is the first center of its kind fully dedicated to the advanced study, research, and documentation of Africa and the African diaspora in the Arab world. The development of The Africa Institute is spearheaded by Cornell University Professor Salah M. Hassan, who was appointed its founding Director in 2018.

The design will create an enclosed  343,175-sf campus with five wings between four and seven stories each, connected by a series of open-air interior courtyards that span the entire ground floor and feature fountains and landscaping with native plants. All four facades will include entryways to welcome the public and connect The Institute with surrounding institutions, organizations, and public walkways. 

The campus will include spaces of differing character and scale for classes and seminars, a research library and climatized archive facility, a flexible auditorium and performance space, an exhibition gallery, a restaurant and cafe, and a bookstore. The Institute is also commissioning artists to create site-specific installations throughout the public spaces of the new building, which will be announced at a later date.

“We selected David Adjaye to create the first purpose-built home for this vital institution because of his experience in designing buildings that foster learning, collaboration, and community building,” said The Africa Institute President Hoor Al Qasimi, in a release. “We started working together in 2017 so that the vision for The Africa Institute and the building that supports its critical mission would be developed hand-in-hand.”

Following a two-year collaboration, the design for The Africa Institute will be unveiled on Oct. 8, 2020. 

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