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Abrahamic Family House

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ABOUT THE ABRAHAMIC FAMILY HOUSE

The Abrahamic Family House will be a beacon of mutual understanding, harmonious coexistence, and peace among people of faith and goodwill. It consists of a mosque, church, synagogue, and educational center to be built on Saadiyat Island, the cultural heart of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Through its design, it captures the values shared between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and serves as a powerful platform for inspiring and nurturing understanding and acceptance between people of goodwill. The vision for the Abrahamic Family House originated after the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity by Pope Francis and Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb in February 2019. This landmark will be a place for learning, dialogue, and worship – open to all and a true reflection of the UAE’s belief in tolerance and hospitality. Within each of the houses of worship, visitors will have the opportunity to learn about religious services, listen to holy scripture, and experience sacred rituals. A fourth space—not affiliated with any specific religion—will be an educational center where all people can come together as a single community devoted to mutual understanding and peace. The Abrahamic Family House will host a variety of programming and events—from daily religious services to international summits. Currently under construction, the project’s anticipated completion date is in 2022 and will be one of several undertakings the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity will advise upon.

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“The Form is translated from the three faiths, we use the lens to define what is similar as opposed to what is different and we use the power of that revelation to make the form.”

ABOUT THE ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN

Architectural design should work to enshrine the kind of world we want to live in, a world of tolerance, openness, and constant advancement. Architecture and landscape design can interpret the fabric and principles of a place, to advance the conversation, reassess current assumptions about the world, and discover more meaningfully what a place can give back. The design aims to both meaningfully represent, and support diverse communities of worshippers, residents, and visitors, unlocking a contemporary spirit that draws from tradition but looks towards the future – a future defined by acceptance, inclusion, and peace. The design seeks a common language between the three monumental buildings of faith, grounding them with an external visual harmony, while ensuring they retain their vital formal distinctiveness. Three identically sized cubic volumes sit on the podium, unified by their scale and external materiality. They each express themselves differently but share equal external dimensions, with a unifying roof at a shared datum height, ensuring that none of the buildings from the three is more dominant than its counterparts.

A mosque honoring tradition and celebrating communal gathering

The mosque celebrates both collective congregation and vital provision of privacy. It uniformly gifts users with opportunities to observe the customs of Islamic prayer, once again using articulated thresholds to allow viewing to occur separately to the act of joining.

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The building promotes sequence, layering, and a rhythmic journey that begins with observing, is followed by spiritual ablution, and culminates in prayer. This building has been designed not in service to typology, but in an earnest pursuit to represent its contemporary congregants. Its lofty, vertical vaults uplift its visitors, allowing them to feel enveloped in a space of veneration and historic belief.

A church designed for different Christian denominations to worship

Communal ceremony and togetherness are given priority, with a water element existing outside the church’s entrance and manifesting as a ritual of crossing over, as opposed to the sequence of descent occurring in the mosque and synagogue.

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Throughout the day, the entirety of the interior is constantly in luminous flux, reminding visitors of their proximity with that which is transcendent and divine.

A synagogue championing the virtues of congregation and ritual

As the first purpose-built synagogue in the United Arab Emirates, the synagogue presents a series of architectural thresholds that culminate in a shrouded, sanctified built representation of communal prayer. The multi-layered facade of the Synagogue recalls the Jewish Sukkot festival, where palm trees are harvested and communities build tents in their gardens as designated areas for gathering and eating.

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The ritual of assembling the Sukkot is celebrated through the rhythmic hierarchy of columns, between which visitors are invited to explore and learn about the Jewish faith. The overriding aim of the Synagogue is to bring people together and the synagogue features a series of interwoven spaces that work in service of human scale interactions.

ABOUT THE ARCHITECT

Sir David Adjaye OBE is recognized as a leading architect of his generation

Sir David Adjaye OBE is an award-winning Ghanaian-British architect, whose ingenious use of materials, bespoke designs, and visionary sensibilities have set him apart as one of the leading architects of his generation.

In 2017, Sir Adjaye was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and was recognized as one of the 100 most influential people of the year by TIME Magazine.

The design of his practice, Adjaye Associates, won the Abrahamic Family House competition and was unveiled on September 20, 2019 at the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity’s Celebration of Human Fraternity event in New York City.

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