The Museum of the Future is a Parametric Innovation

Designed by architect Shaun Killa of Killa Design, Museum of the Future in Dubai is a stunning piece of architecture described as an unprecedented interface towards an innovative future, a parametric innovation in design.
Even in a city like Dubai where buildings rise from the ground up with extraordinary speed and stunning modern designs, the Museum of the Future stands out. Situated alongside the main arterial highway beside the driverless metro system, it is a dynamic landmark collaboratively built by man and machine.

The futuristic building that assaults all the senses at a single time, represents humankind in all its strength, creativity and unmatched ability to exist within its surroundings, according to its creators. The elliptical void represents the unknown; the future. The Arabic calligraphy-wrapped façade displays Emirati passion for the arts, culture, discovery and the endless pursuit of knowledge, innovation and progress.

The Museum is a permanent exhibition of inspiring visions for the future of humanity and a global centre for inspiration, innovation and the development of solutions to challenges and opportunities in human development, according to a press release.

Standing 77 metres tall, the stunning façade is made of stainless steel and glass, consisting of 1,024 separate panels, each one specially created by robots and algorithms. The number of panels has its own significance. It represents a basic unit of the digital information storage system of computers, which is a kilobyte, and each kilobyte is equal to 1,024 bytes. The Arabic script windows cast light into the interior by day and at night illuminate the city’s iconic skyline with 14 kilometres of energy-saving, resource-efficient LED lights.

Windows allowing natural light to flood into the seven-storey structure are designed in the form of calligraphy intricately 3D-mapped onto the building’s curved body. Written on the exterior are the words of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai. Featuring three extracts from His Highness’ quotes, one particularly fitting in the context of this architectural masterpiece, the building reads “The future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it and execute it. It isn’t something you await, but rather create.”

The Museum contains a series of experiential displays for the general public to visit and be inspired by different aspects of future thinking.
At the core of the museum is its multi-use hall, which can accommodate more than 1,000 people, and a special hall for interactive lectures and workshops that can accommodate more than 345 people, according to a press release.

Due to the building’s complex geometry and flowing calligraphy, each separate panel is unique. No two are alike. Each piece had to be individually precast and produced, with numerous protypes designed and manufactured before a winning formular could be achieved.

Every single panel was produced using automated robotic arms. Each panel is made up of four layers and was created following a complex 16-step process. The precision and focus required to create each panel meant that only several could be produced per day.

Parametric modelling was essential to determine the final position, size and dimensions of the Arabic lettering on each panel to ensure it offered optimum balance between natural light, solar heat gain and air conditioning load without compromising its architectural aesthetic. The installation period for the façade lasted around 18 months.

The innovative design and engineering principles deployed represent the future of Dubai and the extraordinary talent of its citizens and residents. The low-carbon project features passive solar architecture through its extraordinary façade, as well as low-energy and low-water engineering solutions with integrated renewable capabilities.

Built by both man and machine, it reflects the limitless ambition of our country’s leadership to create an optimistic future for the region and world. As you gaze up at the brilliant architectural marvel, one line from His Highness’ quotes sends out a message that echoes through eternity: “We may not live for hundreds of years, but the products of our creativity can last even longer.”

The artist behind the Arabic calligraphy fonts representing the wise words of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is the Emirati artist Mattar bin Lahej, known as an innovative thinker and talented artist in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. The wisdom of Sheikh Mohammed’s words, combined with the distinct artistic approach of bin Lahej, act as a call to the youth to be ambitious in their pursuit of future endeavours, dreams and aspirations.

Mattar bin Lahej said: “The Museum of the Future is an architectural masterpiece and exceptional icon that enriches the urban art in Dubai. The Arabic calligraphy is an art that links our history with our future. It is a great honour to be a part of this architectural miracle, which will constitute a beacon to explore new horizons for humanity in the coming years and decades.”

The Nature

The building also epitomises the country’s diverse natural ecosystem, which boasts a vast range of local flora, fauna, terrestrial and marine wildlife.

On first glance, one cannot help but notice the huge green plateau upon which the building stands. On closer inspection, guests discover that the hill is in fact a resplendent garden comprising around 100 species of trees and plants, reflecting the natural diversity that is an integral part of the UAE’s heritage.

Featuring ghaf, sidr, palm and acacia trees, which are well adapted to local environmental conditions, the garden is equipped with a smart, automated irrigation system and supports local bee and bird populations. The landscaping of the Museum was meticulously planned and planted to host these resilient native plant species that can adapt to the desert climate. These include bushy-leaved plants that normally grow naturally in the coastal areas of the Middle East. They are fast-growing, can tolerate hot climates and require minimal irrigation, making them ideal for the sustainable green hill that encircles the 77-metre building.

Like many of the Museum of the Future’s elements, its landscape is truly unique. The plant species and irrigation techniques used consider the nature of the steep plateau and the UAE’s dry weather. Given the unique setting of the building, traditional landscaping techniques were  a challenge. A novel way of planting and soiling the greenery was needed, explain the creators.

With Dubai’s summer temperatures hitting close to 50 degrees Celsius, and with the average rainfall of 130mm per year, irrigation was one of the main considerations for the plateau. A smart irrigation system uses a sub-surface mat that delivers water directly to the root system in a targeted, efficient approach. The plateau’s steep slopes allow quick water run-off, removing the need for water-intense flood irrigation. The hill’s steep slopes allow for rapid water flow, eliminating the need for pumped irrigation. Additionally, water collection and recycling systems are used to reduce water wastage by approximately 25 percent.

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