Jameel Arts Centre

Dubai, UAE

Jameel Arts Centre is an independent arts institution overlooking Dubai Creek. A series of connected buildings with an exterior colonnade, the Centre brings together traditional and contemporary architecture to showcase the very best Islamic contemporary art.

Designed in conjunction with Serie Architects, the multi-storey development is around 10,0000m2 and includes galleries, art storage, outreach spaces, a café, basement car parking and a roof terrace. Seven courtyard gardens surround the Centre, each representing a different desert environment.

Challenge

Standing prominently on a peninsula overlooking Dubai Creek, the client wanted an iconic home for contemporary Islamic art that attracts a wide variety of visitors from the Dubai region and beyond. Low energy consumption whilst maintaining close environmental control was also a priority.

The peninsula location proved testing to our team as water surrounds the site on three sides, and the proposed basement lay below the water line.

Integrating security systems and MEP into the minimalist design was a challenge which our team stepped up to deliver, working closely with Serie to develop bespoke details.

Natural daylight provides much of the indoor lighting, but care had to be taken to reduce heat gain within the buildings. The facade design also needed to withstand the marine environment and extreme temperatures.

Looking out of the floor to ceiling glass wall in the Jameel Arts Centre to the desert garden beyond
Founded and funded by Art Jameel, an independent organisation that champions contemporary art, Jameel Arts Centre is ‘the first non-governmental contemporary arts institution of it’s kind’ in the region. Image: Rory Gardiner

Solution

By focusing on combining the engineering and architecture at the early design stages, Buro Happold was able to take into account many complex issues that would otherwise have arisen later in the process. Our deep knowledge of the region and experience of similar arts projects helped strengthen our design solutions.

The traditional approach of locating plant on the roof was flipped to include the majority of plant at basement level, in order to keep the roof lines as clean as possible.

The building offered a great opportunity to exploit north-facing glazing, meaning the design benefitted from excellent levels of natural daylight without the need for significant external shading.

Efficiencies in time and cost were achieved by designing the colonnade as a repeatable element constructed from Glass Reinforced Concreted (GRC), which simplified the construction of the complex geometry. Further cost efficiencies were driven by providing multiple areas of close control from a single primary air handling unit.

Ventilation for the galleries is integrated within the structure of the walls to maintain the clean architectural lines, whilst ensuring access is available for maintenance and cleaning.

Exterior view of Jameel Arts Centre
The Centre incorporates 1,000m² of flexible gallery space, a 300m² research centre, events and screening spaces, a restaurant, a roof terrace and a book shop. Image: Rory Gardiner

Value

Buro Happold has delivered a world-class arts facility for £1,900/m2, significantly lower than benchmark costs. This has been done through efficient structural design and rationalising the MEP whilst still achieving the brief requirement of a world class facility.

The new Centre acts as a key hub in this newly evolving area, allowing Jameel to expand their programmes, develop new partnerships and share their collection with a much wider audience.

View of Jameel Arts Centre from the water beyond
The galleries are positioned around courtyard gardens, drawing on the architectural traditions of the region and connecting art with nature. Image: Rory Gardiner
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