Our design concept for the Sheikh Zayed Mosque Visitor Center was inspired by the oasis, which is seen as a place of refuge and a haven in the midst of the desert. Shaded by trees, the oasis provides a sense of protection from the harsh sun and desert. Our design involved intricately imposing tree-like canopies (tents) within the Al Sahen, transforming this ceremonial courtyard into a place for comfortable pause, prayer and reflection.

The area to be shaded was been defined as the central zone of Al Sahen. The peripheral zone which has iconic floral decoration on the floor was excluded, in order to avoid the disturbance of its beauty and to provide a spatial distance between the courtyard’s arcades and the new canopies. The area to be shaded was the effective area for the proposed under floor cooling system. The design approach was greatly influenced by the existing natural conditions prevalent on the site. By overlaying the path of the sun’s trajectory over the geographic location of the Grand Mosque, we better defined and plotted the positions of the canopies and as a result also prescribed the zone to which the cooling system was applied.