Abu Dhabi's Al Hosn cultural site wins international architecture award

The complex is home to Qasr Al Hosn, the oldest and most significant building in the capital

Abu Dhabi's cultural site Al Hosn has won a top award at the 2021 World Architecture News Awards. Photo: Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi
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Abu Dhabi’s historic cultural site Al Hosn has been awarded the gold accolade at the 2021 World Architecture News Awards, topping a shortlist featuring six other international sites in the "Mixed Use" category.

Al Hosn is home to Qasr Al Hosn, the oldest and most significant historic building in the capital, which housed the ruling family for centuries and was the emirate’s original seat of government.

The complex’s other major components include the Cultural Foundation, established in 1981 as the UAE’s first multipurpose cultural centre, and the House of Artisans, dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional Emirati crafts and practices.

Al Hosn also features open areas for events and public gatherings.

Judges said the design of the 140,000-square-metre cultural site combined modernity with the emirate’s maritime and desert heritage.

Other candidates vying for the top spot were: Shanghai's Baoshan Exhibition Centre, which sits within an eco-industrial park; Northtown Affordable Senior Housing and Public Library in Chicago; Harbord Diggers Club, a multi-generational community hub in Sydney; Dusseldorf's new green commercial structure Ko-Bogen II; and the One Excellence development Shenzhen.

“It is a tremendous honour and privilege for Al Hosn to be recognised at the prestigious World Architecture News Awards, especially as it was up against illustrious competition from around the world," said Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani, undersecretary of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.

"Al Hosn is a true reminder of our living history and has become symbolic of our nation’s solidarity, heritage and traditions. This historic site is where Abu Dhabi’s transformational journey began, and it will continue to play a vital role at the heart of the emirate’s story, representing our proud past and the legacy of the ‘father of our nation’, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.”

Al Hosn is also famously home to the National Consultative Council, where discussions regarding the unification of the emirates took place, and Al Hosn Musalla, the design of which recently won first prize in the Completed Building – Religion category at the 2019 World Architectural Festival, and was nominated for the event’s Best Building of the Year award.

Visitors can also find restaurants and cafes in the area, such as Mirzam Chocolate Makers, The Espresso Lab, and Wild & The Moon, as well as Erth.

Now in its 13th year, the global WAN Awards acknowledges and celebrates excellent architecture.

Updated: January 17, 2022, 11:53 AM