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His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the House of Wisdom, a new cultural edifice and an iconic architectural marvel situated near the University City of Sharjah, which celebrates the emirate’s yearlong tenure as UNESCO World Book Capital 2019.
Reimagined as a library of the 21st century, the newly opened House of Wisdom (HoW) inspired by modern architecture comprising 15 lobbies and halls spread across two storeys. Set on an elevated platform spanning 12,000 square metres, Sharjah’s House of Wisdom has been designed as an immersive space for learning, sharing, creating, and accessing knowledge. Key spaces bathed in natural light include an expansive lobby, the Al Rasheed Hall, the Espresso Books, Knowledge Terrace, the Wisdom Vault and the Al Ma’moun Exhibition; the Little Reader, the Wisdom Square, the Ibn Duraid Reading Area, the Al Jazri Lab, the Ladies Diwan, the Al Jarhmi Library, and the Al Khawarizmi Exhibition.
Developed by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the new knowledge centre and digital library complex is a hallmark of the libraries of the future – flexible design that allows the library to grow with the times, vast digital resources, a fabrication lab with 3D printers to build prototypes of experimental projects and cutting-edge technology to print and bind books within minutes. The library’s futuristic suspended private pods for quiet reading and a host of collaborative community spaces are designed in a way that promote academic and non-academic pursuits, social learning and cultural interaction.
Designed by Foster + Partners, an award-winning architectural firm will also offer readers, researchers and book lovers across the UAE and the MENA region access to a new way of knowledge exploration with books in varied languages and formats. The two-storey structure also includes lecture halls, reading lounges, exhibition spaces, a dedicated children’s educational area, a central courtyard, a café, a restaurant, and outdoor gardens planted with local varieties of fig, ghaf and palm trees.
At the monumental library which will be home to 305,000 books, of which 200,000 are in the digital format and 11,000 comprise of books in varied languages, His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah was briefed on how the futuristic library has been reinterpreted to adapt to the fast-changing world of technology and stimulates a new way of learning in a welcoming and social environment with abundant knowledge resources. The children’s library ‘The Little Reader’ houses more than 2,000 books, while another has been set aside for youth with 3,000 titles.
The most prominent place in the HofW is the Al Jazari Laboratory (Fabrication Lab), named in honour of inventor Badi Alzaman Al Jazari’s (1136 AD – 1206 AD) scientific contributions to the world. The lab is equipped with cutting-edge technologies and state-of-the-art 3D printers, laser and vinyl cutting machines, and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) tools that enable users to instantly produce complex shaped objects. Packed with innovative equipment and devices, the lab is an ideal space to introduce the young generations to advanced technologies.
The House of Wisdom also contains Al Rasheed Hall, a space for hosting seminars, events, and conferences, and a spaces dedicated to women and children, including the Ladies Diwan, and the children’s library for 3-10-year-olds. The latter offers a variety of seating experiences for children to read, relax or attend workshops and a diverse range of programmes in the fields of innovation, technology, and sustainability, which will be delivered in Arabic and English.