The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday inaugurated the “Abrahamic Family House”, an interfaith complex housing a mosque, a church and the first-ever purpose-built synagogue in the Gulf Arab state.
Designed by renowned Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, the project incorporates several architectural styles traditionally found in mosques, churches and synagogues around the world.
A member of the media tours the interior of the Imam al-Tayeb Mosque during a visit to the Abrahamic family home in Abu Dhabi on February 21. Credit: Ryan Lim/AFP/Getty Images
“What you’re going to see in all projects is that it’s always about filtering light, dividing light,” Adjaye told CNN’s Becky Anderson.
“In the mosque… the light surrounds you until you come to silence and stoicism in the face of Mecca,” he said.
In the church, “you hear the sound of rushing water,” Adjaye said. “For me, water is so important with Christianity. The church is an ark in the world.”
The interior of St. Francis of Assisi Church is pictured during a media tour at the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi on February 21. Credit: Ryan Lim/AFP/Getty Images
The synagogue is the first purpose-built Jewish place of worship in the UAE and, like most synagogues around the world, faces Jerusalem. It is inspired by the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, celebrated by the construction of temporary shelters. An oculus in the ceiling of the space lets direct light into the interior. “The midday light embraces the rabbi in the center very directly,” Adjaye said.
Members of the media visit the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue during a visit to the Abrahamic family home in Abu Dhabi on February 21. Credit: Ryan Lim/AFP/Getty Images
The Jewish community in the United Arab Emirates had previously used makeshift synagogues.
Although quite unique, each individual building is a 30 meter (98 ft) by 30 meter cube. The unifying design aims to provide a common base from which tolerance and understanding can be promoted, Adjaye said.