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Center for Early Childhood Development, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Friday 02 May 2014

Inspiration for a TEDdy-Talk?

Images: CEBRA 
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CEBRA pitches concrete tent for Center for Early Childhood Development in UAE 

Cutting-edge Danish design studio CEBRA has released details of its competition-winning submission for a childcare facility in Abu Dhabi for pre-school children. The scheme is being run by the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahayan Foundation which is also behind the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Al Fayah unveiled recently at Cityscape Abu Dhabi.

CEBRA were invited to take part in the competition following the success of their Paletten Kindergarten in Vonsild, Denmark and describe this latest development as ‘the world’s most advanced centre of pedagogy and children understanding’. This knowledge centre has been designed with the Yale University’s Child Study Center.

The design team have joked that the knowledge that will be produced at the Center for Early Childhood Development will be the subject of the next ‘TEDdy-talk’, but all puns aside, it is hoped that this new institution will generate leading research into the physical and cognitive development of pre-school children.

So-called ‘iconic’ architectural forms tend to dominate in Abu Dhabi, where dramatic forms and complex facades regularly penetrate the skyline. CEBRA recognise this in their design statement, relating that despite the high concentration of international architecture in the city, the intention is for the Center for Early Childhood Development to stand out from the crowd.

The 7,500 sq m, two-storey facility appears as a ‘concrete tent’ pierced with steel trees to aid ventilation in this naturally hot locale. The roof of the centre mimics sand dunes and khaimah tents, echoing the nearby desert with golden-hued aluminium louvres.   

For the children (aged three months to five years), CEBRA has incorporated a kindergarten, a toy and accessories shop, a creative workshop and a playroom. For parents and adults, the wider development includes an auditorium, a library, research facilities and a knowledge centre.


Architect: CEBRA
Engineer/Architect: GHD Global
Consultant: Yale University Child Study Center
Master Developer: Royal Architects Project Management LLC

Key Facts

Client Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation
Status Competition win
Value 0(m€)
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