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Abrahamic Family house
by Adjaye Associates
Abu Dhabi, UAE

Sir David Adjaye OM OBE is an award-winning Ghanaian-British architect known to infuse his artistic sensibilities and ethos for community-driven projects.

His ingenious use of materials, bespoke designs and visionary sensibilities have set him apart as one of the leading architects of his generation. In 2000, David founded his own practice, Adjaye Associates, which today operates globally, with studios in Accra, London, and New York taking on projects that span the globe.

The firm’s work ranges from private houses, bespoke furniture collections, product design, exhibitions, and temporary pavilions to major arts centers, civic buildings, and master plans. His largest project to date, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC opened on the National Mall in Washington DC in 2016 and was named Cultural Event of the Year by The New York Times.

The Abrahamic Family House will be a collection of three religious spaces: a mosque, a synagogue and a church, all of which will sit upon a secular visitor pavilion. The house will serve as a community for inter-religious dialogue and exchange, nurturing the values of peaceful co-existence and acceptance among different beliefs, nationalities and cultures. Within each of the houses of worship, visitors will have the opportunity to observe religious services, listen to holy scripture, and experience sacred rituals. The fourth space — not affiliated with any specific religion — will serve as a center for all people of goodwill to come together as one. The community will also offer educational and event-based programming.

‘As an architect I want to create a building that starts to dissolve the notion of hierarchical difference – it should represent universality and totality – something higher, that enhances the richness of human life.’

David Adjaye

The form is translated from the three faiths, carefully using the lens to define what is similar as opposed to what is different, and using the power of these revelations to make the form. The design appears as powerful plutonic forms with a clear geometry, three cubes sitting on a plinth – though not aligned, they each have different orientations. The story then starts to become apparent through the power of the silhouette, unified with commonality and the articulation of the three forms. These structures represent a safe space, each volume illustrated with colonnades, screens and vaults to represent the sacred nature.

The discovery continues with the common ground, the public space in-between, where the difference connects. The garden is used as a powerful metaphor, a safe space where community, connection and civility combine – this space exists between the three chambers, the three faiths. The podium allows you to interact with each space with no preventative threshold, to dissolve the perceptions of not being included and encourage the celebration of this collective history and collective identity.


Status: Current
Area: 7,700 m² / 82,882 ft²
Category: Civic, Culture
Client: UAE Government
Design Architect: Adjaye Associates
Landscape Architect: Adjaye Associates
Award: Best Luxury Public Services Architecture, Luxury Lifestyle Award, 2020