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Qasr Al Hosn

by Michael Quinn
DG Jones And Partners - Abu Dhabi

Introduction & Project brief 
The Qasr Al Hosn urban block is located in the heart of the city of Abu Dhabi, close to the coast of the Arabian Gulf. The buildings that make up the Qasr Al Hosn urban block are acknowledged to be of national importance as they were once the residence of the Al Nahyan ruling family. They include the first permanent structure constructed on Abu Dhabi Island, in addition to the Qasr Al Hosn Inner Fort and Outer Palace (Fort), the National Consultative Council Chamber (NCCC), and the Cultural Foundation Building (CFB).

The project brief was to re-establish the Fort and the Cultural Foundation Building as two focal points within a high-quality, accessible landscape, providing spaces to stage cultural events of regional and international significance. Two Main Works packages were implemented and supported by three enabling works contracts and separate fit-out and exhibition installations.

Fort and National Council Chamber
The scope of works to the existing coral stone and concrete structure included the stabilization, repair of existing, and installation of new reinforced concrete and glass link structures. Removal of existing dubbing layers, re-rendering of all existing buildings including perimeter walls and watch towers, installation of new timber windows and ​glazing, new floor finishes to all areas installation of all new electrical and mechanical services, and building management systems. The works also included the installation of new toilet and Kitchen blocks,  and a series of Glass Link structures to offer continued conditioned spaces to allow for proposed visitor orientation. ow for the conditioned spaces necessary for intended visitor attraction. 

A 700 m2 interactive exhibition was also installed in the Inner Fort and NCC with the content focused on key periods in the history of Abu Dhabi, the building of the nation, and the architectural features and historic fabric of the buildings themselves. The exhibition opened to the public in March 2018.

Cultural Foundation Building
Exhibition Space 
Set in the middle third of the CFB is an 800 m2 Exhibition Hall which is overlooked by the 1st and 2nd-floor orientation spaces. The exhibition fit-out is simple and flexible to allow for various different collections to be displayed in the facility.

The refurbishment of the 1,350 m2 Theatre in the CFB included for the renovation of the 900 seats in traditional camel leather, the installation of a new stage roof, and floor, and a stage management system. Other areas included in the refurbishment include the back-of-house facilities including production rooms, VIP areas, and restrooms.  

Food & Beverage Outlets
The CFB offers 300 m2 of Food and Beverage facilities over 3 separate outlets including a rooftop café.

Workshops & Office Space
The CFB includes 1,500 m2 of workshop areas for both adults and children as well as dedicated office space.

Interactive Children’s Library
Comprising 10 interactive ‘spaces’, the Children’s Library offers a vibrant cultural library, immersive experiences, and quiet areas for reading that caters to children of all ages and backgrounds. The installations include a fully re-purposed Land Rover, ‘Tarzan’ adventure trails, a book mountain, and a fully-equipped Studio Space installed over 3 floors and an area of over 3,500 m2.

Over 110,000 m2 of paving, compacted gravel, and shaded rest areas have been installed on the project to allow for easy visitor flow between the existing and new buildings. This includes the installation of 1,000 palm trees and over 7,500 shrubs and ground covers.

Car Parking Facilities 
The re-development of Qasr Al Hosn included the introduction of 2 basement parking facilities offering 565 mixed-use parking spaces accessible from two separate main roads.

Facilities Management Centre
A dedicated facilities management center has been built adjacent to the basement car park allowing for the centralized management and maintenance of the site including separate office facilities.

Positioned in the middle of the 6,000 m2 water features on the masterplan area is the Musalla building. Including both Male and Female prayer halls, and separate ablution, the Musalla is a collection of 5 separate buildings set in the water and linked via enclosed glass walkways. 

Food & Beverage Outlets
700 m2 of food and beverage outlets are also positioned on the water feature’s edge on the Masterplan. Spread over 3 separate vendor facilities, there currently resides both a specialist Coffee Shop and a Chocolatier.