13 top architectural firms in Sheikh Zayed National Museum design competition (UAE)

Thirteen of the world's top architectural practices from 11 countries are to enter the international design competition launched to secure an inspirational concept for the planned Sheikh Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Saadiyat Island's Cultural District to be
home to Sheikh Zayed National

The museum, which will be built in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island – the tourism, cultural and residential destination being created 500 metres offshore Abu Dhabi city - will honour the late Ruler of Abu Dhabi and UAE President, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

"All 13 practices competing have been selected for their experience in delivering cultural and museum assets of world-class standing and for the breadth of international design discipline they represent," said His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the name behind Saadiyat Island's transformation.

The competitors are: Atelier Christian de Portzamparc of France; A.N. Tombazias & Associates of Greece; Bernard Tschumi Architects and Eisenman Architects of the USA; Jordan's Dar-Al Omran; the UK's Fosters + Partners Limited; Austria's Hans Hollein Architekt; Mario Bellini Associati and M. Fuksa Arch of Italy; Canada's Moriyama & Teshima Architects; Shigeru Ban Architects of Japan; Spain's Ricardo Bofill Taller and Norway's Snohetta.

Following a familiarisation trip to the UAE capital, which included a detailed briefing on Sheikh Zayed's life, a tour of the 27 square kilometre Saadiyat Island and emphasis on the design criteria of environmental efficiency and sustainability, all 13 are now to submit their concept designs by fall this year.

The winning design will be chosen by a three-strong expert judging panel which includes: the UK's Farshid Moussavi, a practicing architect and Professor In Practice in the Department of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. A steering committee member for this year's Aga Khan Architectural prize and a well-known design critic; Britain's Peter Wilson, Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company's redevelopment project and Head of Collections and former Director of Major Projects for London's Tate Gallery. Finally from the USA Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of Cornell University's College of Architecture, Art and Planning.

"The jury composition reflects our desire to have a widespread of expertise," explained Sheikh Sultan.

The Sheikh Zayed National Museum will span 130,000 ft² and feature five galleries individually devoted to UAE Heritage, the Environment, The Transformation of the Emirates, United Through Leadership and Education. The museum will also include an education centre, theatre, shops and a café and a visitor services area.

The Sheikh Zayed Museum will be an additional asset in Saadiyat Island's Cultural District proposition which also includes the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi contemporary art museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi universal museum, a Performing Arts Centre, a Maritime Museum and a Biennale Park with 19 pavilions devoted to culture and the arts. Four of the worl

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