The city of Dubai that thrives on architectural splendour, a building with bar-raising design compels you to stop in your tracks. Pass through Sheikh Zayed Road and you’ll be immediately enraptured by its glistening eye-shaped design with swirling, allegorical calligraphy that charts the UAE’s prolific history and forward-looking approach. It’s the Museum of the Future, which has been riveting global attention even before it opened its doors, and for good reason. It’s a technological tour de force that offers a lesson in parametric design, with the entire project lifecycle having been created using 4D Building Information Modeling (BIM) algorithms – a time- and cost-efficient process that digitises both the physical and functional characteristics of a structure.
Envisioned by architecture studio Killa Design and engineered by Buro Happold, the solid part of the torus structure represents the knowledge that we have today, whilst the void depicts all that we don’t know yet.
“Only a few facades I can think of create such a striking and lasting first impression,” says Maitha Al Mazroei, Associate Projects Manager at the Museum of the Future, who has been part of the iconic project since the initial stages of its construction. “The metalwork is a defining feature of the building’s identity. The 77-metre-high elliptical shape consists of more than 1,000 unique pieces across 17,600 square meters,” she adds.
Maitha graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Sharjah in 2013 and previously worked at the Dubai Municipality in the fields of engineering, sustainability and renewable energy. She then pursued a Master of Science degree in Sustainable Design of the Built Environment at the British University in Dubai. In 2015, Maitha received the ‘Young Engineer of the Year’ award at the Middle East Electricity Forum 2015 for her contribution to the field of sustainability in the UAE. “From that moment on, I knew I had to keep working towards a more sustainable future,” she shares.
Three years later, she joined the Dubai Future Foundation as an associate projects manager. Here, she worked with a number of teams on a wide range of projects, including the Museum of the Future. Maitha’s role at the museum covers a wide spectrum of responsibilities, including recruiting and managing participating international and local designers. “I led the design process of the second-floor lounge area of the museum by curating its narrative. Additionally, I helm the team responsible for providing content around the exhibits and supervise the English-to-Arabic content translation process of the showcases and publications associated with the museum,” she notes. Also, in her remit is to direct the design of staff uniforms, which were conceived by Emirati and locally-based fashion designers. She has also worked as part of the site supervising team, overseeing the fit-out of the museum’s exhibits.
Sustainability is at the heart of the museum’s design – fittingly so as the building is a bastion of futuristic city models. “It’s the first museum in the Middle East of its kind, and aims at achieving LEED Platinum status,” shares Maitha. The low-carbon civic building achieves sustainability through several innovations, including its parametric design, passive solar architecture, and low energy and water engineering solutions. It also provides recovery strategies for both energy and water, using sustainable construction materials.
“Even the green mound upon which the superstructure stands uses native plant species that are resistant to heat and drought,” she explains. “It’s also fitted with a smart irrigation system to minimise water usage, as it uses weather-related data from moisture sensors to reduce over-irrigation. Any water overspill is collected and recycled back to the irrigation tanks to ensure that there’s no water run-off wastage. I’m very proud to be part of such a leading project in the field of sustainable buildings.”
The UAE’s legacy is felt in the 14,000 metres of Arabic calligraphy that dresses the museum’s stainless-steel facade, featuring words from a poem by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, which have been designed by coveted Emirati artist Mattar bin Lahej. “The future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it, and execute it… The future doesn’t wait… The future can be designed and built today,” it reads in part.
“The most striking element is the Arabic calligraphy that elegantly wraps around the building. In keeping with the museum’s sustainability agenda and novel design, the cursive script doubles as windows shedding light into the interior and lighting up the building with 14 kilometres of LED lighting at night,” Maitha states. “Together, the steel structure and Arabic poetry make an incredibly striking and inspiring facade.”
The Museum of the Future has emerged as a global test bed for emerging technologies. “Indirectly, it offers a message to the world that Dubai is a hub for collaboration and offers a supportive ecosystem to innovators and start-ups in Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. Dubai’s culture of innovation, supportive and agile regulatory frameworks, and favourable business climate make the city a hotspot for the development of emerging technologies,” Maitha says.
The museum offers a melange of the UAE’s rich traditions and futuristic spirit through its distinct creative language. “The calligraphy adorning the facade champions the Arabic language and thus, our rich culture. At its core, it’s an embodiment of the UAE’s outward-looking stance and Dubai’s position as a platform for global collaboration,” explains Maitha. “The UAE has a tradition of welcoming the world and Dubai is one of the most multicultural urban cities. In the same way, the museum has brought together the world’s best designers, architects and innovators to not only construct the building but also to help build a brighter tomorrow for humanity.”
An intriguing new world awaits visitors at the museum when it opens its doors – its launch date is yet to be announced.
I can confirm that guests wouldn’t have experienced anything like it before. The Museum of the Future will include futuristic concepts and solutions, which can be used to help humanity respond to some of its greatest challenges
“I can confirm that guests wouldn’t have experienced anything like it before,” reveals Maitha. “The Museum of the Future will include futuristic concepts and solutions, which can be used to help humanity respond to some of its greatest challenges.”
Visitors can expect an immersive experience that will transport them across time and space. “We’ve partnered with world-leading firms to build complex environments that will allow guests to detach themselves from their current reality. All the partners came together under one banner to collaborate intimately and harmoniously to ensure a consistent and holistic journey. Visitors will leave with a fresh sense of optimism and inspiration to curate the kind of future they want to live in,” Maitha explains.
As the UAE celebrates its 50th National Day this year, it has continued to bolster its position in the futuristic realm. “The country has made huge accomplishments in a short amount of time. We’ve become a spacefaring nation and a world leader in logistics, leveraging Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to create some of the most efficient, sustainable and robust supply chains,” notes Maitha, adding that the country has also contributed significantly to the global agritech agenda and is playing a leading role in the development of green energy and clean urban mobility.
“Over the next 50 years, the UAE will continue its trajectory. As part of its vision, the country will pursue more ambitious feats around science and technology. We can expect achievements in space exploration, urban planning and most importantly, sustainability,” Maitha anticipates.
As the words of Sheikh Mohammed on the Museum of the Future’s facade read, “We may not live for hundreds of years, but the products of our creativity can leave a legacy long after we’re gone.”