UAE: First photos of Abrahamic Family House reveal intricate details of majestic mosque, church, synagogue

The three places of worship are linked together through an elevated landscaped garden that becomes a shared space for gathering and connection


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Fri 17 Feb 2023, 7:26 PM

The design of the UAE's Abrahamic Family House, when it was first presented, was ambitious. It sought to put three grand places of worship on equal footing — no semblance of any hierarchy, designed in the same stature, even in size.

It is an architectural marvel that wanted to send a message of harmony, tolerance, and coexistence — and it did.

Now that the cultural landmark was inaugurated, the first photos showed that the majestic family house delivered on its promise. Designed by architect Sir David Adjaye, the mosque, church and synagogue are linked together through an elevated landscaped garden that becomes a shared space for gathering and connection. The site will open to all on March 1.

Here's how each of the places of worship looked:

Named after Grand Imam of Al Azhar, the Ahmed El Tayeb Mosque is oriented towards the holy city of Makkah. Its exterior has seven arches:

The main internal structure consists of nine ascending vaults, "each rising to form a sail vault at their apex", according to the website.

The Francis Church — named after St Francis of Assisi, a 13th century monk who dedicated himself to a life of radical poverty — faces east towards the rising sun. This "forest of columns" emphasises verticality to express the concepts of incarnation and resurrection that are central to the Christian faith.

Here's how the facade looks:

"Throughout the day, the entirety of the interior is constantly in luminous flux, reminding visitors of their proximity with that which is transcendent and divine," according to the official website.

The Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue, named after the 12th-century Jewish philosopher, symbolises the traditional shelter for prayer. A crisscross diagrid façade and soffit represent the palm trees used to build a Sukkah.

Aiming to bring people together, this place of worship features interwoven spaces that work in service of human-scale interactions.


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