Safdie Architects Propose Conceptual Design for the Abrahamic Family House "by Christele Harrouk"

Safdie Architects’ entry for the Abrahamic Family House competition located in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, in Abu Dhabi, brings together a mosque, a synagogue, and a church within a shared public park.

Highlighting the idea of “Diversity within Unity,” the project puts in place each religion’s worship space, evoking their specificities like history, traditions, and rituals. The holy composition of variations of the sphere portrays an integrated and unified whole. In fact, Safdie Architects opted for this geometrical form, because “the sphere symbolizes oneness and the equity before God of all who worships. Its variants, the dome, and the circle are recurring symbols in the sacred buildings of all Abrahamic religions”.

The project creates life within the desert, an oasis with three floating halls, rising “towards the heavens, shimmering in the light.” With a lattice structure of steel, in-part opaque, in-part translucent, in places transparent, to bring a soft light to the interior, and glow like lanterns at night, the praying halls have access from a common plaza. The Mosque is placed on the axis of Mecca the Synagogue, on the axis facing Jerusalem; the Church, with a more flexible tradition of orientation, faces the North.

Placed under the piazza, at the level of the reflecting pond, the Visitor’s Center "is enclosed with glass and surrounded by water on all sides, with views up to the worship halls". The winning entry of the competition was awarded to David Adjaye's proposal, earlier this year.

  • Team: Mott MacDonald, Lead Consultant - BuroHappold Engineering, Structural Engineer - Pascal + Watson, Executive Architect - PWP Landscape Architecture, Landscape Design
  • Clients: The Higher Committee for Human Fraternity
  • Size: 6,489 sqm