Video: Home or museum? This Sharjah residence is stunning residents with its calligraphy design

The ‘Diwani’ building is the first of its kind globally, designed to showcase the relationship between architectural art and calligraphy

by

Ruqayya Al Qaydi

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KT Photos: Muhammad Sajjad
KT Photos: Muhammad Sajjad

Published: Sat 10 Feb 2024, 2:15 PM

Last updated: Thu 15 Feb 2024, 3:18 PM

As you stroll along the street near the University Hospital in Sharjah, you will spot this building which stands out with its impressive design – with a stunning calligraphy on its front. This special building grabs people’s attention and makes them stop for a closer look, wondering if it’s a house or a museum.

The ‘Diwani’ building is the first of its kind globally, designed to showcase the relationship between architectural art and calligraphy. Every detail in the construction was carefully considered, connecting the building and calligraphy.


The front facade of the ‘Diwani’ building stands out with a square Kufic script featuring a Quranic verse which says: “And say, 'My Lord, let me land at a blessed landing place, and You are the best to accommodate [us].'

Skilfully penned by famous Jordanian calligrapher Zuhair Afaneh, the script is etched on 80 solid stone pieces, each 10cm thick, brought in individually from abroad. These pieces were meticulously reassembled in Sharjah, forming a three-metre high and 25-metre-long display.


Watch the ‘Diwani’ villa below (Video: Muhammad Sajjad):

Traditional Islamic architecture

The building also represents the 'Mashrabiya' in ancient Islamic architecture, both in its use and form.

'Mashrabiya' refers to a traditional element in Islamic architecture. It is a type of oriel window with carved wood latticework. It helps provide privacy while allowing airflow and sunlight to pass.

Inside the building, a remarkable collection of more than 200 artworks of over 85 calligraphers and artists from various eras, showcases the richness of Arabic calligraphy with modern art.

Outside, there is a sculptural rock, which is a copy of the original stone sculpture found in Al Faw village in Saudi Arabia. The inscription on the original stone (made of limestone from the late 1st century) warns those who may damage a family grave and is written in an ancient south Arabian font.

On entering the villa, you will first notice this 5-metre tall special piece. This remarkable piece represents the cover of the Kaaba before the current black one. Earlier, this would be crafted in Egypt by a family-owned factory. The grandson of the artisan took around six months to create this piece – from choosing the design to completion.

The living area features colourful mosaic art with calligraphy across the wall. This took around six months – from designing and manufacturing to installing the pieces in the wall.

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