There are many people who have left their mark on history, influenced and inspired nations, cultures, or have driven positive change. There are monuments and landmarks dedicated to their lives and achievements across the world. The founding father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed, is one of those.
Dubai's Bluehaus Group, working alongside Her Highness Sheikha Mariam bint Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and her project team, listened to stories of personal encounters from people related to HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the elderly who reminisced about moments and events from his life. It was clear that emotions towards the Founding Father are as strong today as they were during his life.
Those stories were used to create The Founding Father's Legacy Office in Abu Dhabi's IPIC Tower, creating a space to narrate a story about Sheikh's Zayed's beliefs, actions, and moral fibre.
The UAE's heritage and culture has played an integral role in the creation ofthe interior, with finishes inspired by the country's traditional building methods and the unique layout and materiality aid in creates a space that speaks of the past and evokes memories but is still connected with the present and celebrates the UAE's ambitious future.
The design team's main aim was to create a workplace that allows for discovery through unexpected storytelling. General functional zones have been inspired by the 'past' (where the archive and library is), the 'present' (which has sunken majlis style seating surrounded by social areas) and the 'future' (which has a large boardroom, project rooms and a recording studio). Each zone has an a view that complements and supports the time it represents.
Storytelling begins with understated but striking architectural elements, painting a picture of Sheikh Zayed's strength and presence. The entrance commands respect and sets the tone as it leads and entices the visitor towards the greeting area.
The main focal point of the entrance, besides the striking slanted walls that create an illusion of a narrowing hall is a majestic 'sandbox'. This is where employees and visitors are greeted by a famous quote "His bisht always seemed to be filled with the wind of heaven," giving a sense that Sheikh Zayed's spirit is alive and present within the office.
It is a space full of emotion that provides powerful insight through key messages.
The feature lighting on the backdrop of the reception wall was designed and created to capture a constellation of stars present at the time of Sheikh Zayed's birth, and a piece of Al Ain's Jebel Hafeet mountain was extracted and carved into a stunning featurerock to make the reception counter.
The office is designed in an unconventional 'gallery style', with the aim of reflecting the typology of a traditional Emirati community. The functional built-up areas are designed to create unique walkways, from which you can explore alleys and nooks.
Along the journey, visitors can gaze on artworks and personal belongings from Sheikh Zayed's life.
In the heart of the office lies a sunken courtyard, symbolising Sheik Zayed's down-to-earth nature and his focus on people and the nation. It acts as the collaborative hub for everyday users, and a hosting area for visitors and events.
This space is created to symbolize the 'nation' - a living example of a unified people working together.
Emirati Bedouin building materials and architectural building methodology have been used, such as the hand-woven Sadu in the ceiling, which is on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
As well as the palm leaf weave and rock from Jebel Hafeet, there's handmade clay pottery, all using local materials to celebrate the life, era and vision of the late Sheikh Zayed and to celebrate the present that was possible because of him and the future he has paved the way for.
It's a fitting legacy.
• Al Tayer Stocks
• Lighting: PSLAB & Acoulite
• Furniture: Total Office & Plumbsheep
• Flooring: Micro topping by Intex Finishes
• Glazing Partitions: Kaprel
• Customized Carpet: Carpet Crafts
• Platre: Sarooj
• Decorative Concrete Coating: Optimum