Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 February 2020

House of Wisdom: Sharjah's high-tech library will open in April

Once complete, the library and culture centre will span 1.2 hectares and feature more than 100,000 books

Sharjah’s House of Wisdom will open to the public in April.

The high-tech library and culture centre is close to completion, and once finished will span 1.2 hectares and feature more than 100,000 books.

Its stunning, minimalist look was designed by renowned British architectural design and engineering film Foster + Partners. It was created to commemorate Sharjah being named as the Unesco World Book Capital in 2019.

The two-storey library will be located on the Sharjah International Airport Road and sit amid landscaped gardens.

It will feature a large “floating” roof with a 15-metre-wide overhand that provides shade during the day, while moveable aluminium screens will be used in the afternoon to filter the low evening sun.

“The House of Wisdom project is a new cultural milestone and has strengthened Sharjah’s position as a melting pot of world cultures in the region," said Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, head of the advisory committee of Sharjah World Book Capital and vice president of the International Publishers Association.

"The ethos behind this library are the same ones that guide Sharjah’s development process, and prove once more that the sustainability and growth of any nation can only be ensured by promoting continuous opportunities for learning and gaining knowledge.

In addition to the library, the space will also feature discussion halls, reading lounges, exhibition spaces, a children’s educational area, suspended pod spaces above the central courtyard for quiet reading, a cafe and a restaurant, and landscaped gardens.

There’s also a “book espresso machine” that prints and binds books on demand.

Outside the area, the space sits near The Scroll, a spiralling, modern sculpture inspired by Arabic scrolls and designed by British sculptor Gerry Judah.

The Scroll is about 36 metres tall and weighs 72 tonnes. It features a design that allows people to walk around and underneath it, while looking up through the gaps in the steel folds to the sky and down at the shifting puddles of light on the ground.

“The origin of the book is the scroll, it’s where it all started,” Mr Judah says. “I thought the design also nodded to Arabian calligraphy."

He hopes it will remind people of “the long-lasting power and significance of books and reading, to culture and heritage”.

The projects have been developed by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority.

Updated: February 2, 2020 05:58 PM

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