Symbolism reigns in this Dubai Museum

Situated on Dubai’s waterfront, the Etihad Museum honours the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) conception story. Comprised of the curving Pavilion above ground and a subterranean Museum, the building is adjacent to the historic Union House, where the nation’s Constitution was signed in 1971.

Interior Designer: Chen Cohen, ARIDO

Design Firm: Moriyama & Teshima Architects

Project Photographer: Victor Romero, Felix Loechner

The museum makes an impact with its unique scroll-like form which mimics the parchment paper of the UAE Constitution. The Pavilion’s entry features bronze metal text of the nation’s founding philosophy that seems to rise from a page of marble. Rows of embossed bronze columns recall pens in motion, referencing the signatory act that formalized the Emirati unification.

Marble covered entry to Etihad museum with diagonally leaning columns.

A grand staircase and ramp that echo flowing lines of Arabic script takes Pavilion visitors underground. Once descended, visitors encounter the familiar circular form of Union House through a curving foundation wall, clad in dune-like carved stone. This familiar element becomes the central organizing feature of the museum, a constant reference point for visitors as they navigate the massive permanent gallery and its surrounding spaces.

The flow of movement is further highlighted by billowing white ceiling planes that represent the rippling patterns of the Bedouin winds in the desert sand. Movement is further accentuated by carved wood columns throughout the space.

Marble and white exhibition area with white curving walls.

The museum houses permanent and temporary galleries, a theatre, event spaces, and archival facilities, and the design team placed these rooms strategically, as they have no need of natural light. Meanwhile, two spacious sunken courtyards and four large skylights connect to the ground level plaza, flooding the sub-terranean classrooms, research library, administration offices, prayer rooms, and café with natural light and prevent visitors from feeling stuck underground.

Cafe space at Etihad museum, with view of open courtyard.

The design team worked to ensure the museum is a space that represents the UAE’s past while creating a site for learning and exchange in the present, and progress in the future.

A space for creative ideas to thrive

Artscape Daniels Launchpad is a not-for-profit space for creatives, a marketplace of ideas, and resources where members may build connections, and launch their practices in an inspiring and dynamic environment. Having purchased a 33,000-square-foot commercial condominium space within the new Daniels City of the Arts complex on Toronto’s waterfront, Artscape tasked the design team with creating a facility that would inspire both creativity and professionalism in equal measure. This project was completed in 2019. 

Interior Designer(s): Caroline Robbie, ARIDO

Design Team: Tor McGlade, ARIDO, Stephanie Wiebe, ARIDO

Design Firm: BDP Quadrangle

Photographer: Adrien Williams, Bob Gundu, Catherine Ryan

The design team began developing a plan to coherently organize over ninety unique rooms, suited to an array of wildly different functional and aesthetic needs of Artscape. Accommodating workshops for jewellery, textiles, woodworking, digital prototyping, and black-box studios for photography, audio, video recording, VFX, and editing suites, the commercial condominium would also house meeting rooms and classrooms, a social commons, an event space, and Artscape’s workplace headquarters. 

Image by Catherine Ryan
Image by Catherine Ryan.

Tackling the complex program within an awkwardly shaped interior, the designers strategically situated the sound and vision spaces at the centre of the floor plate to support black-box and acoustical separation, thereby establishing a central spine or ‘street’ which formed a clear north-south connection for organizing services such as data cabling, power, lighting, and air. The street links all workshops, workplaces, and event spaces together, bookending them by the Artscape offices and commons at one end, and the Sugar Hall event space at the other. Along its length, the design team distributed maker spaces with cold-rolled steel-framed glass storefronts at the entrances, drawing light into the heart of the floor plate, and offering views of the variety of items being made as open ‘house’ booths activate the street and encourage easy connectivity between members.  

Minimalistic, yet purposeful, interventions leveraged the industrial concrete and lighting to lend a raw tabula-rasa effect while mixing in pops of colour and pattern. As seen in the salvaged gymnasium flooring repurposed in the ‘boardroom’, and warm natural materials where one comes into contact with surfaces such as the hand-painted porcelain kitchen tile.  

With such a variety of requirements, the designers clustered spaces around function and imbued each with a distinct sense of personality and character. Light-filled studios boast professional quality equipment, as witty and colourful meeting rooms support networking, professional integrity, and calm simple spaces that are interjected for quiet, focused work.  

Glazed meeting rooms have unique personalities as well, with a huge wall of flowers, a luxurious cork and brass cocoon, a crisp black and white design for Launchpad’s partners, HXOUSE. The Commons is comfy, filled with an eclectic mix of modern and reclaimed furniture, even including a mobile faux fireplace, all of which can be easily reconfigured for different purposes, helping the users to feel at home.

With an understanding that oftentimes artists and creative entrepreneurs are accustomed to working in older, repurposed spaces that may not ideally support their practices, the designers acted to elevate the design through a familiar eclecticism within the newly constructed space. Deliberately establishing an environment that blends ideal working conditions with seemingly ad-hoc and playful elements, as splashes of colour and reclaimed furniture economically create memorable interior focal points that make the creative community feel relaxed and at home without distracting from their work.

How a public library was transformed for the 21st century

Hamilton Public Library’s (HPL) full scope included renovations to four different spaces, totalling more than 28, 000 square feet.

Interior Designer: Dora Lomax, ARIDO
Design Team: Karin Vandenberg, ARIDO; Pete VandenArend, Intern, ARIDO
Design Firm: McCallum Sather Architects Inc.
Photographer: Dan Banko

The HPL wanted to serve their community’s 21st century needs, but was held back by a dated setting and limited budget. Major priorities were more digital literacy services, like a lab and training programs, space that would accommodate group and solo study, and community gathering space for multiple music events throughout the year.

Library floor and seating area with patterned carpet and low yellow seating.

Placing new program space on the perimeter walls gave more room for the concert space, while moveable glass walls left sightlines open, while keeping equipment secure. With so many glass walls, the city views were uninterrupted, however, this left few places to add colour and interest to the space. A carpet that used hexagonal tiles piqued the interest of the city, and HPL found additional resources to inject more colour in the space.
The new space features the Discovery Hub with a Maker Space, digital media room, music room, green room, video production space, computer training room, reading spaces, multi-purpose room, art gallery and place to host the beloved ‘Music in the Round’ events.

The integrated design comfortably accommodates a hive of activity, down to the specially-made carpet designed in a pattern of a motherboard, which visually reinforces the library’s intent for this flexible, creative hub. The multi-functional space balances acoustical demands with mechanical and air flow requirements, and now comfortably supports private, semi-private or collaborative activity.

Existing furniture was reconfigured with new pieces to create a new computer training area. The moveable glass walls can be reconfigured based on the HPL’s needs, and a pull-down reel system accommodates electrical connectivity throughout the space.
Once it opened in May 2016, it quickly became a hub of activity, adding significant value to the community through access to space and equipment otherwise out of reach.

‘Movement is life’ is the driving theme of this North Bay healthcare centre

A project that has been in the works since 2012, the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit can now provide public health services to a community that was once seriously underserved.

Interior Designer: Anne Carlyle, ARIDO
Design Team: Alanna Drawson, ARIDO
Design Firm: Carlyle Design Associates
Architect Lead: Paul Mitchell, B. ARCH OAA FRAIC
Architecture Firm: Mitchell Jensen Architects
Photographer: Lisa Logan

In a design collaboration between Mitchell Jensen Architects and Carlyle Design Associates, this highly functional building “brings public health into the public realm”, according to principal designer Anne Carlyle, ARIDO.

A site was purchased in North Bay that is easily accessible by public transit, bike paths, and pedestrian routes to embody the Health Unit’s objective to promote healthy lifestyles. The design team and client shared a goal of designing a facility which is practical, reflects the Unit’s values, welcomes the public, inspires staff and visitors, and symbolizes the value of health promotion to the community. ‘Movement is life’, and is fundamental to health, which became a driving theme in this project.

Photographer: Lisa Logan

From the entrance, movement is expressed by the expansive open atrium with prominent, gradual stairs, and discrete elevators. The repeated elements of circular shaped lighting and Douglas Fir curtainwall continue this rhythm throughout the building. Expansive glazing and views of the landscape help to calm anxious visitors and to aid wayfinding, while the connection to nature is further reinforced by materials including abundant wood and natural stone.

Photographer: Lisa Logan

Behind the scenes, staff are provided with a variety of workspace options including workstations, private rooms, lounge spaces, and group settings for table-based and more casual meetings, shared work or socialization. These workspaces run perpendicular to windows to maximize natural light, views and windows, and are adaptable to employee needs with sit/stand options, adjustable storage, and task lighting.

Art by local artists is placed throughout the space, fifteen were generously donated through an anonymous donor, while another fifteen are on loan via a partnership with a local gallery. The pieces inspire reflection and conversation, adding dynamic interest to the stunning facility.

Photographer: Lisa Logan

This project was also awarded a Canadian Interiors Best in Canada Award for the Institutional Category. Congratulations to Carlyle Design Associates and Mitchell Jensen Architects!