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Austin-Smith:Lord to convert historic Middle Eastern fortress - image

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Austin-Smith:Lord has landed the project to convert the historic Qasr al-Hosn 'white fort' in Abu Dhabi, the emirate's most famous building, into a museum.

The practice will work alongside Buro Happold on the scheme to turn the 18th-century landmark and former home of Abu Dhabi's ruling family into a national heritage centre.

As well as preserving and restoring the existing structure, there are also plans for a new national memorial in the heart of the fort, which was once used by sailors as a key reference point, but is now in the centre of the city.

In addition, Austin-Smith:Lord wants to improve the access to the fortress and integrate the stronghold into its urban surroundings 'through evocative landscape design'.

The museum will showcase the history of the city, the fort and the 'achievements' of the ruling Al-Nahyan family.

Sami el-Masri, of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage said: 'The site has an undeniable potential in contributing to and enhancing the quality of the living environment in the city, lending it the historical flavour and the traditional character it strongly lacks.'

The practice has teamed up with London-based heritage planning consultant Prince Research Consultants on the project.

by Richard Waite

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