As one of Abu Dhabi's most prominent cultural landmarks and an important example of the country's modern heritage, the Cultural Foundation - along with the wider Al Hosn site in which it in situated - have been undergoing a decade of renovation and maintenance works.The original building which was designed by The Architects’ Collaborative (TAC), founded by Bauhaus pioneer Walter Gropius, was completed in the early 1980's, comprising a three-winged building around a central courtyard - all of which has been maintained in the newly inaugurated building.
The original detailed designs for the building project were submitted by an international team, and were further perfected by a young Iraqi architect, Hisham Al Ashkouri, who was invited by Louis McMillen, one of TAC’s principals, to lead the project, according to the Cultural Foundation's official website.A product of Baghdad University, Al Ashkouri had been taught by a number of leading architects including Mohamed Makiya and Hisham Munir.
Reem Fadda, director of the Cultural Foundation, told Commercial Interior Design that preserving the original building was vital to Abu Dhabi government's strategy of maintaining the country's cultural heritage, as well as preserving memories of such a prominent landmark."[The Cultural Foundation marks] the preservation of an authentic location and space that is resonant to memories, to people, and to history. And I think that was deeply important," Fadda said, adding that Foundation was a "place to go" for people in the capital and the wider country.
"It was a place to go to. It was the heart. I think it many ways, you can't really think of removing the heart. It is a vital organ," she added.The renovation of the Foundation marks a wider initiative to preserve buildings of historical, social, and architectural value in the capital - a step that has already been taken by neighbouring emirates including Dubai and Sharjah.
"We now have a full programme of preservation of modern heritage buildings starting with the Cultural Foundation - this was really the impetus of what's to follow," Fadda explained.The opening of the theatre and the newly converted Children's Library is part of Abu Dhabi government's strategy to empower youth through cultural education.
"Abu Dhabi's strength as a cultural hub is the deep link between our history and future aspirations. Investment in immersive learning spaces like this will develop the young leaders of the future," said HH Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of the Executive Committee.The Cultural Foundation now also includes Bait Al Khatt (House of Calligraphy) and the Al Marsam Al Hor (art studios).