Abu Dhabi’s Wahat Al Karama Wins American Architecture Prize 2017

BY Ayesha Shaikh / Oct 25 2017 / 19:01 PM

British artist-sculptor Idris Khan bags the award for his iconic memorial park design in the UAE capital that immortalises those who lost their lives for the country

Abu Dhabi’s Wahat Al Karama Wins American Architecture Prize 2017
Idris Khan
Wahat Al Karama, Monument
Abu Dhabi’s Wahat Al Karama Wins American Architecture Prize 2017
Idris Khan
Wahat Al Karama, Memorial (detail)

London-based British artist Idris Khan wins big as his design for memorial park Wahat Al Karama in Abu Dhabi bags the 2017 American Architecture Prize.

Wahat Al Karama, translated as ‘The Oasis of Dignity’, was created to memorialise members of the United Arab Emirates military who lost their lives in the line of duty. It was completed to coincide with the UAE’s Commemoration Day in November last year.

At the centre of the park is the sculpture that stands 90 metres tall, featuring 31 leaning tablets that symbolise how soldiers, their families, and citizens have been pillars of strength for the UAE military. The monument is covered with 850 cast aluminium panels with sandblasted sections that are inscribed with poems written by emirs of the UAE.

An interior view of The Pavilion of Honour

The Pavilion of Honour is placed at the end of the park, its walls inside made of 2,700 plates that utilise 11 tonnes of recycled aluminium removed from military vehicles that are now decommissioned. The walls list names of servicemen who sacrificed their lives. 

Khan shows great reverence for the project with a design that beautifully marries architecture with art and literature, something he’s widely celebrated for. In an earlier interview with Harper’s Bazaar Art, he said of Wahat Al Karama, “It is a place to congregate and remember, a place to reflect emotions, a symbol of a country’s belief and support for their nation, to feel pride in the people who selflessly provide protection.”

With Khan at the helm of design for the surrounding memorial grounds, Pavilion of Honour, amphitheatre and visitors centre, the project was realised in collaboration with architects bureau^proberts and Urban Arts Projects, and engineers Robert Bird Group and AECOM.

For more information about the memorial park, visit Wahatalkarama.ae.