ABU DHABI: Ghanaian British architect David Adjaye on Tuesday delivered the final keynote speech at the Culture Summit Abu Dhabi in which he talked about the Abrahamic Family House interfaith complex in the UAE capital.
Adjaye is known for buildings such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway.
The 56-year-old designed the Abrahamic Family House that features a church, mosque, synagogue, and museum, with the aim of bringing together the three Abrahamic faiths of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.
Addressing the summit audience, he said: “We were very, very humbled and honored to have won the competition to design the Abrahamic Family House.
“The idea was to create three temples or worship spaces to Islam, to Judaism, to Christianity, and then to create a museum that will connect them and talk about the roots of that connection.
“So, to talk about the religious connections across those three faiths, and then to create a series of networks and spaces that basically allowed for the practice of these three religions to happen, and also for education and other facilities to happen around it.”
And he noted the rare nature of the building.
“What is amazing for me is that there’s only perhaps a few medieval cities that you might see this, maybe Cairo. I know of few other places in the world where you would, through the patina of history, see a synagogue, a mosque, and church together.
“So, I think this is a really profound moment where architecture is brought in to really coordinate this incredible moment to allow the rituals of daily life to happen in relation to each other,” he added.
On how he would measure the Abrahamic Family House’s success, Adjaye said: “I want to see all generations just use it. For me, it’s so important that it’s multi-generational. I want to see people in their elder years and very young people running around and using it.
“I’d also really love that people who don’t have faith feel very comfortable there.
“So that’s really important to me that the place is also welcomes people who don’t have faith, and that it doesn’t make them feel awkward.”
Earlier at the summit, celebrity architect Frank Gehry spoke about his vision for the upcoming Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, saying “I understood that the same form multiplied, was something that was part of the language of the architecture of the region,” in reference to the structures of minarets and domes in mosques.