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Credit: Foster + Partners
Talks and lectures

RIBA Gulf Chapter: Building visit and online tour – House of Wisdom

Join the RIBA Gulf Chapter for a simultaneous in-person and virtual tour of Sharjah’s House of Wisdom by Foster + Partners. This event aims to provide a pair of opportunities for attendees to experience the cultural library, by hosting both online and on-site building visits.

For this event, we invite RIBA Members in the Gulf to attend a building visit hosted by the RIBA Gulf Chapter at the House of Wisdom in Sharjah by Foster + Partners. This event aims to provide a pair of opportunities for attendees to experience the cultural library, by hosting both online and on-site building visits.

The tour is available to join online for a virtual viewing of the building visit which will be followed by an audience Q&A session with Dara Towhidi and Khawla Al Hashimi.

The House of Wisdom explores the idea of a library as a social hub for learning, with support from innovation and technology. Within it, the two storey building provides an establishment for publishing and research.

The tour will guide you through a building that demonstrates a sense of lightness and openness, with spaces that provide views out through the double-height glazed façade. The building includes the expected reading, archive, and children’s areas, with an addition of large spaces for exhibitions and an internal courtyard for either quiet reading or social events.

The tour will be led by Dara Towhidi of Foster + Partners and Khawla Al Hashimi from Sharjah’s Shurooq who will discuss the building’s design and inception.

Live questions from the online audience and visitors can be taken during the visit.

This event is arranged and hosted by the RIBA Gulf Chapter.


Dara Towhidi
RIBA Gulf Chapter Member, BSc (Hons), Dip Arch, ARB, RIBA, Partner and Architect at Foster + Partners

Dara Towhidi is a partner with international experience at all stages of the design process across a broad spectrum of building types. He gained a first class Honours degree in architecture in 1997 from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, completing his post graduate studies in 2000. His student work was nominated for the RIBA Bronze Medal and later featured in the Bartlett Book of Ideas, which showcased ten years of student work at the school.

Khawla Al Hashimi
Architect, Director of Project Development at Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq)

Khawla Al Hashimi is currently the Director of Projects at Shurooq, and has worked there for the past 10 years, after starting as an architect. She has designed and managed the development of many projects spanning from hotels to beach promenades and libraries.

Andy Shaw, RIBA (Online Moderator)
RIBA Gulf Chapter Chair, Managing Partner at AMA

Andy Shaw RIBA is an architect and educator based in Dubai. He is the Managing Partner at AMA. Since January 2020 he has been the Chair of the RIBA Gulf Chapter, helping create multiple online events, the first Dubai Architecture Festival, and a regionally focussed sustainability series. He is also a Visiting Professor of Architecture at Heriot-Watt University, Dubai teaching Professional Practice and Sustainable Design. He is a RIBA Part 3 Examiner for Westminster University.

Juan Roldán (Host)
Architect, Associate Professor at the American University of Sharjah, and Member of RIBA Gulf Chapter.

Juan Roldán is a Spanish architect and designer, now teaching at the American University of Sharjah as Assistant Professor in the field of Interior Design and has been the International Charles Correa Chair 2019-2020 (Charles Correa Foundation).