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Museum of the Future: Art and Algorithms

One of the most exciting cultural developments in Dubai is the iconic Museum of the Future created for the Dubai Future Foundation. Even in a city building as quickly, and as much, as Dubai, the Museum of the Future is known as one of the most challenging construction projects ever attempted. The museum is a showcase for innovation, design and tolerance. According to the emirate, this ambitious US$136 million project “will house an incubation centre for new inventions coupled with a museum of prototyped ideas”. The futuristic building is located alongside Dubai's elevated train line, a short distance from the Burj Khalifa.

Groundbreaking approach to architecture and what it means to be a museum

Local architectural firm Killa Design, which won the design competition for the museum in 2015, came up with the shape. According to the architect, the solid part of the structure represents the knowledge that we have today. The void represents all that we do not yet know – in other words, the future. Art and metaphor were driving concepts in the museum design, the 78m- high exterior of the building is adorned with Arabic calligraphy, the cursive scripts double as the windows of the museum. The calligraphy on the facade, designed by Emirati artist Mattar Bin Lahej, contains phrases of poetry written by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai about his vision for the city's future.. The calligraphy that covers the facade is molded into each individual panel, with the letters continuing across the glazed windows. Together, the calligraphy and the building’s unconventional shape have made this one of the most complex construction projects ever attempted. Even before opening, the Museum of the Future has become a showcase for future technology building design.

Human story of possible futures

More than 30,000 sqm will be divided into six floors of exhibition space focused on the likes of the possible futures of outer space resource development, ecosystems and bioengineering, and health, wellness and spirituality. Another floor will be dedicated to showcasing near future technologies set to transform the world by addressing challenges in areas such as health, water, food, transportation, and energy, while the final floor is dedicated to children, full of puzzles and challenges. Rather than gadgets, the museum is focused on the human story of the future. Exhibitions build on over five years of immersive displays that were created for Dubai’s annual World Government Summit and focused on the role of future technology in diverse sectors such as government services, healthcare, climate change and food security.

Algorithms and sustainability

The Museum is linked by two bridges, the first extending to Jumeirah Emirates Towers, with a length of 69 meters, and the second linking it to the Emirates Towers metro station, with a length of 212 meters. The building is powered by 4,000 Mega Watts of electricity produced through solar energy by a new station connected to the Museum. The station was built in collaboration with Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA), making the Museum upon completion, the first Museum in the Middle East to obtain a Platinum certification from LEED, the highest rating for green buildings in the world. The park surrounding the Museum of the Future contains 80 species of plants, equipped with a state-of-the-art intelligent and automatic irrigation system.

To create the desired form and unique cladding, while aiming for a sustainability rating of LEED Platinum (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification), architecture studio Killa Design and engineers Buro Happold developed new parametric modeling tools. These included a "growth algorithm" that was used to "digitally grow" the building's internal steel structure. Created with the aim of making one of the most advanced buildings in the world, the studio says the museum exemplifies a new, digital design approach.

Collectively creating the future

The museum will be a place of learning, where you can explore the challenges and opportunities shaping our times, and finding solutions for a better future. Its design aims to inspire visitors to “see the future, create the future“. A wide range of technologies including augmented reality and virtual reality will be used to project the visitor forward into the future to create an immersive theatre experience.

“The Museum of the Future will be an incubator for ideas and real designs, a driver for innovation and a global destination for inventors and entrepreneurs,” said Sheikh Mohammed at the unveiling. “The future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it, and execute it. Here in the UAE we think differently. While others try to predict the future, we create it.” As I embark on a new career journey in this innovative city, I hope I can contribute to creating the future of arts and culture in the UAE.

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