Sharjah's new Al Janah Pavilion pays tribute to Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi

The impressive structure plays on the muqarnas feature in Islamic architecture

A striking architectural structure has been unveiled in Sharjah's Aljada mega project. Al Janah Pavilion, designed and built in partnership with students from the College of Architecture, Art and Design at American University Sharjah, pays tribute to the memory of Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi.

Sheikh Khalid was the chairman of the Sharjah Urban Planning Council and played a major role in the development of the emirate’s urban infrastructure, while ensuring respect was paid to tradition and culture.

He was also the leader of the region's first international platform for architecture, the Sharjah Architecture Triennial, as well as a renowned fashion designer and co-owner of British fashion label Qasimi, the reins of which were handed to his twin sister, Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, after he died in 2019.

“The beautiful structure of Al Janah Pavilion is an example of what can be achieved when youth and creativity are inspired by the rich heritage and traditions of those who came before us,” said Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, chairman of Aljada developer Arada.

“These same values also inspired Sheikh Khalid, who revered our past but also was open to progress and new ways of thinking. It is our hope that the space will be used as a place of inspiration and reflection that will protect and carry Sheikh Khalid’s legacy for future generations.”

The pavilion’s design was inspired by the muqarnas, a type of ornamented vaulting that is a centuries-old feature in Islamic architecture.

It generally featured on the underside of domes, creating a smooth transition between ceiling and supporting walls, often purely decorative but also sometimes serving a more structural, load-bearing purpose.

In this contemporary pavilion, the muqarnas has become a complex canopy that allows "playful" shadows to be cast as the sun moves across the sky.

Al Janah is Arabic for "wing" and the pavilion was designed and developed by AUS students during the 2018-2019 academic year, as part of a collaboration with Arada. Students were investigating and developing methodologies for the design of roof canopies for extreme desert climates.

"Al Janah Pavilion is an example of what can be accomplished when partners who are dedicated to education provide opportunities for students to engage in meaningful projects," said professor Kevin Mitchell, chancellor at AUS.

Visitors to the pavilion will be able to learn about causes and themes that were important to Sheikh Khalid through inscriptions set across stone benches erected underneath the canopy.

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