Memorial Park. Art & Architecture blend into urban sculpture - Memorial Park. Art & Architecture blend into urban sculpture - DesignOnWeb
A work that exemplifies the power of fusion between art and architecture in Abu Dhabi. The first Memorial Park for the United Arab Emirates to celebrate brave soldiers and other Emirates serving the nation was awarded the 2017 American Architecture Prize.
An Idris Khan British work of art forms the Memorial in the heart of Wahat Al Karama Park. Symbolically located between the Great Mosque of Sheikh Zayed and the UAE Armed Forces Headquarters, Wahat Al Karama, which means "oasis of dignity", covers an area of 46,000 square meters.
The International Art, Design and Manufacturing Studio UAP was designated to commission the Memorial and collaborated on the pavilion. The studio is behind some of the most reminiscent projects on the public scene, such as the centerpiece of the "University of Science and Technology of King Abdullah (KAUST) Breakwater Beacon" in Saudi Arabia and the latest project with Ai Weiwei and the Public Art Fund called "Good fences make good neighbors" in New York City.
UAP's curatorial team listed some of the world's most famous international artists who participated in the contest, after which the Crowned Court of Princes chose Idris Khan. Khan's deep affinity with the local UAE culture, combined with a strong Western voice, made his Memorial the winning project.
Artist Idris Khan commented that the idea was to create a park to reflect on both loss and memory, a spiritual place that carries unity and support. This monument has a positive and experimental resonance, inspiring curiosity to sculpture and how contemporary art can influence emotions. It is a place of serenity within a city committed to construction and growth, an important part of the history and landscape of a country that will be absorbed by the cultural awareness of future generations.
The Memorial includes 31 permanent aluminum tablets, each of them 23 meters high. The tablets rest on each other to represent unique strength, power and pride among soldiers, loved ones and their country. With its impressive staircase, the Memorial represents the eternal martyr, a place of reassurance and challenge. Its two frontal tablets rise vertically and are intended to evoke a sense of humility when they come together.
The tablets feature a series of Arabic poems and quotations from both late Sheik Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Poems and verses encourage the onlooker to discover and touch the engravings as they walk through the artwork, creating a personal relationship with the Memorial. Each tablet has been carefully crafted by UAP's design and manufacturing team. The 31 tablets consist of a total of 850 cast aluminum panels. The UAP team used a hand painting technique to achieve a delicate gradation of color on the surface that captures light rather than reflections. Daniel Tobin, founder and creative director of UAP, commented: "We feel privileged to be the winner and, above all, we had the opportunity to collaborate with an exceptional artist like Idris Khan, to understand and bring his unique creative vision.
An integral part of Idris Khan's work is a repetitive marking and erasure action. The result is a subtle and intense texture that forms an endless band of brands, which seem to appear and disappear. The UAP team has successfully transformed the artist's beautiful and timeless marker into 3,000 square meters of molten metal. Working closely with Khan as the designer made us evolve and throughout the manufacturing process, the team's creative problem-solving skills enabled the transformation of monumental vision into a tangible object. As part of the commission, UAP supervised the design and delivery of The Pavilion of Honor, also designed by Idris Khan in collaboration with Brisbane-based architecture office bureau^ proberts and engineering consultancy Robert Bird Group.
The Hall of Honor is a circular structure located at the end of the visitor's journey. It has seven glass panels in its center surrounded by a water feature, representing the seven Emirates of the UAE. The circular inner wall is lined with 2,800 sheets of aluminum made of recycled metal from the armored vehicles used in the service, which are inscribed with the names of the heroes of the UAE. The engineering company AECOM was responsible for the entire designing of The Memorial Park.
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