Dubai opened on February 23, one of the most beautiful buildings ever produced in the Arab world. Perhaps this is just my opinion as a researcher and teacher of Arabic letters and science, but its unique design is marvelous, intriguing, and futuristic. The museum took years to be built by local designer Kella Design. The museum aspires to become a “living laboratory,” showcasing exhibitions around science and technology themes.
The building’s distinctive parametrically designed form is inspired by the human eye, which the team describes as representing knowledge and future vision. “The museum is the eye that sees tomorrow,” the museum’s team says. “The void in the heart of the structure represents the unknown that we seek to discover, as it is the future that we will reach.”
The 77-meter-tall (252-foot-tall) building is clad with 1,024 stainless steel composite panels adorned with Arabic calligraphy. The inclusion of 1,024 panels was a conscious decision by the design team, who considered each panel to represent one kilobyte. In digital computing, one kilobyte equals 1,024 bytes or 1,024 characters.
The façade is illuminated by 14,000 meters (46,000 feet) of programmable LED lighting highlighting the calligraphy inscribed across the 17,600-square-meter (190,000-square-foot) surface. The calligraphy comprises three quotes by the Dubai ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who has described the museum as “the most beautiful building in the world.”
Then translated, the three quotes read: “We may not live for hundreds of years, but the products of our creativity can leave a legacy long after we are gone;” “The future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it, and execute it. It isn’t something you await but rather create;” and “Innovation is not an intellectual luxury. It is a secret behind the evolution and rejuvenation of nations and people.”
Inside, the museum contains seven floors with no internal pillars. Facilities within the museum include a 1,000-seat hall, 345-seat lecture theater, and five floors of gallery spaces. The visitor experience includes virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, with specific exhibits including space exploration and a digital simulation of the Amazon rainforest.
The museum’s opening comes months after Expo 2020 Dubai opened to the public, featuring UAE and Qatar pavilions by Santiago Calatrava and a UK pavilion by Es Devlin. The region also recently played host to one of the first mosques in the country ever designed by a female architect, unveiling the Al Quoz spiritual center by Dabbagh Architects.