Sharjah: His Highness Shaikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, unveiled the Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 Monument on Tuesday.
Developed by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), and commissioned by the Internationally acclaimed UK-based artist, Gerry Judah, the 36.5 meters high sculpture is inspired by an ancient scroll design that represented the lasting power of books and how reading shares a strong purpose of uniting people together.
The true spiral is made of 72 tonnes of steel with 240 tonnes of concrete foundations underneath a 4-metre wide base. Shaped like a torch, the monument highlights Sharjah’s ongoing efforts aimed at fostering reading and stressing the important role of books in further intellectuality and enlightenment.
Shurooq started developing the monument after the World Book Capital's International Committee, an affiliate of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), named Sharjah World Book Capital 2019. It commemorates Sharjah’s landmark cultural achievement as the first city in the Gulf Region and third city in the Arab World, to be given this prestigious title.
His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah has also unveiled the ‘House of Wisdom’ project, which is being developed by Shurooq in celebration of Sharjah World Book Capital 2019. Scheduled for a public opening in 2020, this iconic library and cultural centre will be the newest addition to Sharjah’s numerous public offerings where books and knowledge can be openly accessed by people of all age groups and nationalities.
Designed by award-winning British architectural design and engineering firm Foster and Partners, the project has Sharjah’s ambitious cultural vision at heart. The emirate seeks to promote its social and cultural legacy internationally and become a city that contributes to building capable generations, empowering them with education and knowledge-based tools for bringing positive change.
The House of Wisdom will be built in keeping with the fast-changing world of technology, and will be a first-of-its-kind sociocultural platform. Extending over 12,000 square meters, it is located by the Sharjah International Airport road and near the University City of Sharjah. The building is characterised by simple design, contemporary architecture and interactive facilities.
The building has two floors comprising a 105,000-book library, discussion halls, reading areas – both indoors and outdoors in the garden, in addition to a restaurants and a café alongside an attractive children’s education space, a prayer room and a dedicated women’s area. Furthermore, there will be indoor and outdoor parking areas to accommodate up to 120 cars.
The House of Wisdom will offer visitors of all age groups a new way to read and explore knowledge, to learn and engage socially. It is designed as a model for future libraries that blends traditional and digital sources of knowledge, interactive learning and contemporary pedagogy in a unique aesthetic featuring multipurpose halls.
The ground floor will have exhibition spaces, a café, a children’s educational zone, a laboratory and a handcraft-atelier. It will also feature world-class equipment to stimulate innovation and creativity.
In addition, House of Wisdom will provide a speed-record printing machine for visitors, which will not only print a book, but also provide a quality cover. The move is aimed at encouraging visitors to continue reading at home. A specialised digital application to facilitate navigating through books, options and services will also be offered.
The front of the building’s façade will be entirely transparent; made from top-quality UV resistant glass to offer visitors the pleasure of reading in natural light as they enjoy floor-to-ceiling views of the beautifully-landscaped gardens surrounding the library, (The front of the building has metal screens designed with different transparencies.
The building’s designers have brought a special architectural representation of Sharjah – a model of intellect and a cultural centre of dialogue, engagement and interaction – to the House of Wisdom. The six pillars of the Sharjah World Book capital programme encapsulated in its theme ‘Open Book… Open Minds’ will also find expression in its architecture.