Qasr Al Hosn’s Musalla Wins Top Award at World Architectural Festival 2019

The capital of the UAE celebrated the start of December with a fantastic accolade as Abu Dhabi’s iconic Al Hosn site won a prestigious international architecture award.

The World Architecture Festival 2019 was held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from 4 – 6 December, with the Musalla (mosque) section of UAE capital’s Al Hosn site, which was designed by architects Cebra, winning first prize in the Completed Building Religion category.

The annual festival and awards ceremony, one of the highest profile events dedicated to the architecture and development industry in the world, announced the winners for its 2019 edition at a special event in the Dutch city, with this year’s edition attracting more delegates and shortlisted practices than ever before.

The Musalla project, which was developed by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), won top spot for the Completed Building Religion category, triumphing over competitors such as the Novena Church project in Singapore, the Mary Help of Christian Church (Chaweng) in Thailand, and The Thickness of Emptiness Funerary Chapel in Spain.

“Qasr Al Hosn is a key part of the fabric of the culture and history of Abu Dhabi, the symbolic birthplace of the emirate. But it is also a symbol of the continuation of Abu Dhabi’s cultural growth as we preserve the past in the present,” said HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Undersecretary, DCT Abu Dhabi. “The recognition of the work done with the Musalla represents the innovative design that Abu Dhabi wants to be recognised for, and the winning of this prestigious award is confirmation that our ambition to achieve excellence is strategically paying off.”

The architecture team for the Musalla aimed to create an area that appropriately reinstated and re-energised the most significant cultural and heritage site in Abu Dhabi and to also make the location accessible to a larger, global audience to make the legacy of the Emirate accessible to the world. As the project won first place, the World Architecture Festival judges noted: “Through the landscapes they have enhanced this heritage site and in doing so, created architecture.”

The architects created a unique structure at the site incorporating ‘Voronoi shapes’ into the design, which symbolized the emirate’s coastal desert landscape, echoing mud cracks that are an intrinsic part

of the local landscape. The geometric design lands somewhere between building and landscape, with all the new buildings designed to almost disappear as landscape objects, the Qasr Al Hosn fort remaining the dominant building on site. The colour of the concrete is also exactly like the local sand, which   further integrates building and landscape, with the Musalla seeming to ‘grow out of the ground’.

The World Architecture Festival was first held in 2008 as a festival and live awards competition dedicated to celebrating and sharing architectural excellence from across the globe. The first four festivals were held in Barcelona but since 2012 the events have been hosted in Singapore and Berlin with this year’s event held in Amsterdam. The 2020 edition will be held in Lisbon.

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