The pandemic brought many aspects of life to a standstill. The tourism and hospitality sectors were heavily impacted, but they were not the only ones. Urban developments had to be stopped, the deadline to deliver certain constructions having to be postponed several times due to uncertainty of many logistical aspects. After some countries began ease most of the restrictions, works could be resumed and some important buildings around the world are now opening. Here are three of them.
1. Abrahamic Family House, Abu Dhabi, UAE
The Abrahamic Family House includes a synagogue, a church and a mosque in one complex. The Higher Committee of Human Brotherhood (HCHF), which has overseen the project, said it is inspired by the Human Brotherhood Document. Built on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, the Abrahamic Family House derives its name from the Old Testament biblical figure Abraham, who is recognized and highly revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims.
The design of Abrahamic Family House, by architect Sir David Adjaye, integrates the values shared by Judaism, Christianity and Islam, through three main buildings, which include a mosque, a church and a synagogue on one site. As such, the complex tells the story in an innovative way and builds bridges between human civilizations and heavenly messages.
The names of the three separate iconic houses of worship in The Abrahamic Family House complex became officially known as the “Imam AlTayeb Mosque”, “St. Francis Church” and the “Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue”. Moses ben Maimon was a prolific and influential Sephardic Jewish philosopher of the Middle Ages.
In addition to the 3 places of worship, the site includes a cultural center that aims to encourage people to exemplify human brotherhood and solidarity within a community that cherishes the values of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence, while preserving the unique character of each faith.
The design of the Abrahamic Family House was first presented by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, at a global meeting in New York in 2019, during the second meeting of the HCHF. The design was also presented to Pope Francis and the Grand Imam during a meeting with them in November of that year.
The iconic geometric architecture of three cubes, representing the separate places of worship, evokes the unified unity and mutual coexistence between the three religions. At the same time, the design reflects traditional architecture while preserving the individual features of each of the three religions.
Project supervisors said that during the design phases of the houses of worship, members of the religious communities from around the world have been engaged and consulted to ensure consistency and compliance with the requirements and teachings of the respective religions.
2. Lola Mora Cultural Center, San Salvador de Jujuy, Argentina
Located in a forest overlooking the city of San Salvador de Jujuy, in northwestern Argentina, the Lola Mora Cultural Center, dedicated to the famous Argentine sculptor, one of the pioneering artists of the early 20th century, will open in 2023.
In addition to a selection of her works, the site will house an interpretation center, restaurant, library and workshop for visiting artists. The building, whose shape was inspired by a sculptor’s chisel, is described by architects Pelli Clarke & Partners as carbon-free and with the help of on-site wind turbines and solar energy production, the site is expected to generate 20% more energy than it consumes.
The Lola Mora Cultural Center will also feature six sculptures by the artist, a pioneer of her generation, which have become a true national treasure. The building’s narrow entrance gradually opens outward to a lobby and exhibition hall, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass.
The cantilevered roof creates free-spanning column-free spaces that serve as floating protection for the sculptures on display. The design also features an interpretive center, restaurant, library, gift store and workshop that welcomes visiting artists with opportunities for temporary exhibitions.
Surrounded by the lush Yunga forest, the building overlooks the city of San Salvador de Jujuy with the mountain range in the distance. The gallery features an open design to allow views of the sculptures from different angles and distances, while framing views of individual sculptures to create an engaged relationship between the art and the viewer. The forest serves as a green backdrop, seen through the expansive convex glass façade that, along with strategically placed skylights near the sculptures, flood the space with natural light.
Lola Mora, who was born in 1966 and died in 1936, was the first Argentine and South American sculptor, author of countless monuments in the country and the world.
3. National Library, Jerusalem, Israel
Commissioned in 2013, the design of the National Library of Israel attends to the architectural tradition of this historic city with the aim of establishing itself as a building appropriate for current times and for its immediate context. To maintain their relevance in the information age, contemporary libraries must retain the functionality and spatial quality that have traditionally characterized these buildings with the intention of continuing to serve traditional users, while at the same time generating alternative spaces and uses to attract a new audience.
Located on a triangular sloping site amidst the heterogeneous construction of the new Jerusalem precinct, the National Library is situated between two of the city’s major institutions: the Israel Museum and the Knesset.
Conceptually, the building is open and transparent but at the same time remains rooted in the traditions of the great libraries and the city itself. As in the past, books occupy the center, creating a stable base that contrasts and balances the constant technological changes. The books anchor the building to the ground and are visible to the public from a large central void.
This void, formed by stacked circles and topped by a circular skylight, shapes and organizes the interior: it runs through all levels and connects the reading rooms, public areas and administration with the lower collection, where large subway storerooms house most of the volumes and create the building’s base. The first two floors are made up of elements that emulate large display cases, which dialogue with the street by displaying their contents and turning their activities outward. Above them, a sculptural stone volume crowns the ensemble and evokes the massiveness of Jerusalem’s historic architecture.
The piece is like a large stone whose triangular plan responds to the shape of the site and whose height is adapted to the scale of the adjacent buildings. Elevated above the surroundings, the volume casts shade and provides thermal mass to insulate the interior spaces. The building’s sustainable performance is ensured by the combination of thermal mass, shade, solar panels on the roof and a thermal basement filled with stones, which serves to cool the air.