Strategically positioned between Abu Dhabi and the city’s international airport, Zayed University is part of a masterplan designed to mark the entrance of the region’s “Capital District”. Developed by german practice BRT Architekten, the project combines a number of contemporary and traditional architectural and engineering elements that reference the United Arab Emirates’ national identity and heritage.
Due to increased demand for undergraduate courses, the university decided to develop a new campus, allowing the school to expand and improve its existing programs, forming an academic research facility that meets the highest worldwide standards. Providing facilities for 6,000 students, the campus will also accommodate the Zayed International College, a center offering high-quality education to students of all nationalities.
The 80 hectare site comprises faculty and administration buildings, classrooms, science and computer labs, an 18,000 square meter library and a cafeteria. In addition, a sports complex and a conference center are both equipped with the latest technologies capable of hosting a range of national and international events. Understanding that a lot of learning occurs outside of the classroom environment, the design team created a number of spaces which encourage and foster social interaction.
The site is arranged around a formal axis that divides the male and female campuses, while a promenade connects the clusters to a centrally situated courtyard. A podium encircles the scheme providing a solid visual basis for the glazed structures, while outdoor stairways, ramps, and sheltered colonnades are incorporated within the flowing undulating design. Above, a distinctive and defining roof canopy references the curvilinear forms of traditional emirati garments, offering necessary shelter from the region’s hot sun.
“The new campus finds its emphasis in the distinct marking of the focal point. Formally, the central functions of the university are linked organically – inspired by the flowing forms of the desert and of the veil. Functionally, the integrated, shady outdoor spaces activate communication. Emotionally, the academic establishment in the neighborhood of further large buildings devoted to culture and sport, gains an image of its standard that is distinguishable the world over”, explained Hadi Teherani of BRT Architekten.
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