House of Wisdom, designed by British architecture company Foster + Partners is a leading cultural destination dedicated to learning, knowledge, and technology that marks the UNESCO World Book Capital year for The Emirate of Sharjah.
The building creates a new publishing and research-based institution that seeks to be the catalyst for a new cultural quarter in the city.
Located adjacent to the airport, ten kilometres from the city centre, the two-storey building embodies a sense of clarity and lightness, with a large floating roof cantilevering on all sides of a transparent rectilinear volume.
Photography: Chris Goldstraw
Shurooq, the Sharjah Investment, and Development Authority, engaged with Injazat, an industry-recognized market leader in the Arabic gulf region for digital transformation, cloud, and cybersecurity, as the end-to-end technology partner to transform their vision into reality: the House of Wisdom as a unique omnichannel destination experience
Injazat then turned to Alkemy and DGI – Design Group Italia to design, create and implement an engaging set of “phygital” experiences integrating physical spaces and objects with digital interfaces and solutions.
Together, they set out to reimagine the traditional library for the 21st century turning the cultural institution, traditionally seen as a repository of physical books, into a holistic and seamless “phygital” experience.
The result is an entirely integrated experience where technology and digital empower the physical to create an engaging omnichannel destination experience.
“House of Wisdom reinterprets the classic library, expanding it to a place for meeting, learning and growing. To do so, it was essential to bring together the design of physical spaces and phygital touchpoints.” says Sigurdur Thorsteinsson, Partner at Design Group Italia
Building on the customer archetypes, the cross-disciplinary team designed a customer journey through the library's different touchpoints and services to create a varied and enjoyable experience for guests.
“Our aim was to create awareness around House of Wisdom. We chose to open with a campaign that asks big questions about humanity, truth, and knowledge to underline the library's role as an enabler of dialogue.” says Niccolò Rigo, Senior Strategy Director at Alkemy
Rooted in the design strategy, Alkemy and DGI – Design Group Italia defined the pillars of the House of Wisdom customer Journey.
For the spatial experience, they divided the library into experiential and functional zones: discover, focus, experiment, and play. They then identified the key moments of interaction and experiences for visitors in each area. The same vision, concept, and experience was then consistently applied across all touchpoints.
“We worked on all the aspects of the project, so we were able to guarantee a consistent high-quality experience across all touchpoints.” says Francesca Vittori, Experiential Spaces Director at Design Group Italia
Visitors can use their smartphones to interact with all touchpoints of the library. With the House of Wisdom app, visitors can access all the content, services, and experiences of the library.
There are smart totems across the building for advanced book searches, bookings, order placements, and additional information through touchless, direct scans with QR codes.
All the UX/UI of the touchpoints (website, mobile app, digital screens) are designed to meet the needs of the customer archetypes', with the principles of human-centered design applied across the board.
The design is mobile-first, with the same functionalities for all touchpoints to guarantee a uniform experience.
Cover image by Chris Goldstraw