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Kuggenheim Art Pavilion

Kuggenheim Art Pavilion

Studio Zhu-Pei
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Project Year

Guggenheim Art Pavilion, Abu Dhabi

Studio Zhu-Pei as Architects

Concept Design Description

The design of Art Pavilion aims to maximize the potential of its site by creating a dynamic connection between the urban fabric of the new Cultural District, and the canal at the centre of the Biennale Park. Raising the main exhibition space above the Biennale Park, a continuous public realm is created at ground level. Accessible from the street, park and canalside, this space is more than just a gateway to the exhibition hall, its a place for curious passers-by to investigate, somewhere to enjoy a coffee overlooking the canal, a location for small public exhibitions or performances, or a round-about route from the street to the canalside. The walls rising up to enclose the exhibition space above slope steeply outward, creating external shaded areas for park and pavilion visitors alike to enjoy, and maximizing views into the park from the street.

While the dynamic, sculptural language of the building highlights its identity as a cultural landmark, distinguishing it from the adjacent commercial and residential buildings, the form of the pavilion reflects its function as a bridge between this urban fabric and the canal. To the North, it responds to the geometry and scale of the street. The main entrance is located here, emphasizing the connection of the Biennale Park, of which the pavilion is part, to the wider urban district. To the South, the body of the pavilion tapers, as it appears to stretch out towards the canal, articulating the conception of a vibrant relationship between city and waterway. The building terminates in a single glazed opening concentrating views across the canal and park. The main exhibition hall is a spectacular open space interrupted only by the two angled cores that rise through the building. Accessed by an open, sculptural stair leading up from the public area below, it provides flexibility of use while maintaining a strong and unique formal identity through the folding of walls and roof. Glazing is kept to a minimum in order to reduce solar gain and control light levels, with natural light and ventilation provided by clerestory windows and the single large window to the south offering views across the Biennale Park. A smaller, multipurpose mezzanine floor leads onto the gently undulating roof, an amphitheatre providing space for outdoor events and offering views across the cultural quarter and to the sea. A ramp brings visitors back down from the main exhibition space to ground level by the café, ensuring a smooth flow of visitors through the building.

Below the main body of the pavilion a basement level, housing offices, flexible studio spaces/classrooms, retail space and services, is partially sunk into the landscape below the pavilion. A courtyard provides light and independent access for staff, and is accessible from both the street level and canalside. The roof of the retail units form a terrace shaded by the cantilevered pavilion. Overlooking the canal, this allows the ground floor of the building to extend out into the landscape, reinforcing the connection between the Pavilion and it’s surroundings.

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