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“House of Wisdom”, the new Lighting Project by Francesconi

13 December 2021

The Brescia-based company lights up the Sharjah library “House of Wisdom” by Foster + Partners


House of Wisdom – the name says it all –is Sharjah’s new iconic library and cultural hub in the UAE, expressly designed to celebrate the city’s 2019 UNESCO nomination as World Book Capital. The library and the entire area have taken on a crucial role as a community centre for learning, and a research & innovation hub in the Emirates with a view to promoting knowledge and reading.

The House of Wisdom has reshaped the concept of library meant not merely as “home for reading books” but also as a place for new ideas and cultural exchanges intended for both uninitiated readers and professionals of all ages. Inspired by the original House of Wisdom in Baghdad and designed by the British studio Foster + Partners, the complex measures an area of 12,000 square metres and is built on two levels. Its large roof, which rests on a rectilinear, transparent volume, overhangs all sides of the library building with a 15-metre projection and shades its façades for most of the day, while aluminium screens filter the sun at sunset. Inside, the library houses 105,000 books and has study areas; multi-purpose spaces; large, fully equipped classrooms for conferences, events and exhibitions held by companies and individual professionals; a cafeteria and an educational space for children an archive and a reading area with state-of-the-art equipment, such as the Espresso Book Machine, which prints and binds books on demand.

A minimalist type of architecture with attention to details blends well with the outdoor landscape surrounding the House of Wisdom. Visitors enter the complex through a large open-air green area, which is divided into two sections; i.e., a Japanese garden and a children’s playground along the south side, and a more formal, geometrically structured cactus garden along the northside. This latter garden has been expressly designed to house a large public artwork entitled The Scroll by British sculptor Gerry Judah, a spiral that winds towards the sky and interprets the ancient Arabic scrolls in a contemporary form.

The scenic view around the building is completed by a reflecting pool embellished by majestic fountains and lit by Francesconi Architectural Light. This lighting solution consists of MINI FLEA recessed immersion LED lighting units made in 316L stainless steel, rated at IP68, in 3000K light colour, with 10-degree narrow beam lens and 2.2W capacity, which create special plays of light on the water surface. These small luminaires look like precious jewels that make water glow magically as a functional and decorative solution enhancing the architectural lines of the pool for an overall bright and elegant effect. The ultra-compact size of the MINI FLEA lighting units and the wide range of lens combinations make this product suitable for every type of application.

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