The Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi wins global art and design award

The public artwork 'The Constellation', part of the memorial complex, has been recognised for the way it integrates art and architectural space

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The Constellation, a public artwork at The Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, has won an award at the 2019 Coda (Collaboration of Design + Art) Awards in the Institutional Category.

Now in its seventh year, the Coda Awards recognise projects that successfully bring together commissioned art and architectural, interior or public spaces.

This year, 18 jurors – comprised of professionals in the fields of design, architecture and art – chose from 435 entries from 26 countries. The selected projects, divided into categories such as commercial, education, healthcare and landscape, can be found across the world, including the US, the Netherlands, Singapore and Sweden. The UAE is the only country from the Middle East included in the 2019 winners list.

Located in the capital’s Corniche West area, The Founder’s Memorial serves as a national tribute to the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed, who died in 2004. It opened in April 2018, after more than six years in the making, including conceptualisation and construction.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 05 MAY 2018. The Founders Memorial in Abu Dhabi on the Corniche located next to the grounds of the Emirates Palace. The memorial celebrates the life and vison of the late Sheikh Zayed. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: None. Section: Big Picture.

Designed by artist Ralph Helmick, The Constellation is the memorial's centerpiece, serving as both a monument and artwork that features a three-dimensional portrait of Sheikh Zayed. At 30 metres high, the pavilion houses 1,327 geometric shapes, or polyhedrons, that hang on cables to form a multi-dimensional image. As visitors move around the pavilion, the portrait appears to shift too.

It is at night that the monument lives up to its name. The shapes are lit up in golden hues and Sheikh Zayed’s portrait appears to be formed by a cluster of stars. In 2018, the project won awards (Best Outdoor and Indoor Lighting Project and Best Innovative Lighting Project) for this use of lighting at the Light Middle East Fair.

In addition to the now award-winning monument, the memorial centre also has a number of gardens with local flora and fauna. These were created with Sheikh Zayed’s values in mind, considering his affinity with nature and commitment to preserving indigenous plants and wildlife.

The Sanctuary Garden circles The Constellation pavilion and boasts a variety of tree species, including the Ghaf, date palm, sweet acacia and Sidr. Nearby is a water feature that has been modeled after the ancient irrigation system from the Arabian Peninsula called 'aflaj'. It's a nod to one of Sheikh Zayed's community projects, when he restored the irrigation system during his time as the Ruler of Al Ain.

The Heritage Garden includes local plants that have been used in traditional UAE life, such as suwac, or the toothbrush tree, caralluma and desert cotton.

The Founder’s Memorial is free to the public and open daily, with tours of the centre held regularly.

For more information on The Founder’s Memorial, visit