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Adjaye plans church, mosque and synagogue for interfaith site in Abu Dhabi

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Adjaye Associates has unveiled plans for an interfaith centre on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, featuring a mosque, a church and a synagogue  

The practice was selected from a shortlist of unnamed international firms for the project – officially the Abrahamic Family House – on the site in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The scheme is being billed as a ’collective space’ which will serve ’a community for inter-religious dialogue and exchange, nurturing the values of peaceful co-existence and acceptance among different beliefs, nationalities and cultures’.

As well as separate worship spaces for each religion there will be a fourth building, a shared space ‘for collaboration and informal gathering’.

Earmarked for a plot close to Foster + Partners’ long-awaited and yet-to-complete Zayed National Museum, the project is backed by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity.

The new body was set up to deliver ’the goals’ of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, a joint statement signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, which aims to ensure that different faiths can live peaceably in the same areas.

David Adjaye, founder and principal of Adjaye Associates, said he was ’humbled and honoured’ that the practice’s design had been selected for the project.

He said: ’Architecture should work to enshrine the kind of world we want to live in, a world of tolerance, openness, and constant advancement. Architecture and landscape design can interpret the fabric and principles of a place, to advance the conversation, reassess current assumptions about the world, and discover more meaningfully what a place can give back.

Adjaje went on: ’As an architect I want to create a building that starts to dissolve the notion of hierarchical difference. It should represent universality and totality, something higher that enhances the richness of human life. We hope we have set out a plan for a beautiful and thought-provoking space that celebrates the three faiths and stimulates dialogue and understanding at a critical time for the worldy

He added: ’Built in the UAE’s capital, the space will be open to the world, and our hope is that through these buildings people of all faiths and from across society can learn and engage in a mission of peaceful coexistence for generations to come.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Looks a great initiative

    - perhaps following on from our FridaySaturdaySunday project which shares a single space that is a mosque on a Friday, and synagogue on a Sunday and a church on a Sunday.

    I am not sure the synagogue in Abu Dhabi will be used very much - perhaps as a symbol of interfaith and community dialogue, UAE might recognise the existing of Israel, and welcome the only Jewish state's nearby neighbours to share in this fantastic and worthwhile venture.

    It would be a shame for it to be purely symbolic of interfaith dialogue rather than actually physically promote and allow it.

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