The ancient palace Qasr al Hosn (from qasr, meaning palace, and hosn, meaning fort) was the very first structure on Abu Dhabi Island, built in 1761 to guard an important source of fresh water. In the centuries to follow it would serve a variety of purposes; a watchtower, a home to ruling sheikhs, and a government office. Today, the Qasr al-Hosn is partially open to the public with a museum representing the UAE's cultural heritage and an 11-day festival celebrating the history of this iconic structure.
FFunction partnered with world-renowned visitor experience studio gsmprjct° to design a temporary exhibition for the festival. The exhibition was grounded in two important Emirati traditions: oral storytelling and Al Sadu. Al Sadu is an ancient Bedouin weaving tradition using geometric patterns, now protected by UNESCO and valued for its vital role in bringing members of the community together.
FFunction’s role within the exhibition design was to encourage visitors to weave their own narratives into the Qasr al Hosn story. We did this by creating a touchscreen UI, a projection and a set of icons that would represent Abu Dhabi. Using touch screens, visitors chose an icon to represent Abu Dhabi. A professional weaver working on-site with a digital weaving machine then incorporated that icon into an ongoing Sadu tapestry. By the end of the festival, the result was a single collective artefact celebrating the cultural identity of Abu Dhabi.
Although the festival lasted just ten days, the exhibition was considered such a success that it remained open for another four months. It also won a Numix Award in 2014 for Production culturelle, exposition muséale.