The Qasr Al-Hosn fort ensemble in Abu Dhabi is a monument of the highest cultural significance for the United Arab Emirates, having witnessed the development of the city and surrounding region from a small fishing village to the modern metropolis of today. The fabric of the buildings can be traced back to numerous building phases between 1790-1990. The restoration works were undertaken as part the larger redevelopment of the entire Qasr Al-Hosn and Cultural Foundation site to a cultural centre and museum in the centre of Abu Dhabi. The aim was to consolidate the Fort in line with international standards in monument conservation. The Old Watchtower at Qasr Al-Hosn, the oldest surviving building of the complex was restored under the complete direction of ZRS.
Due to the introduction of a large amount of cement based materials in later building phases, the delicate lime-based historic masonry was seriously endangered due to severe corrosion and spalling of concrete elements, termite and fungi induced damages to structural timber elements, furthermore there was evidence of decay of decorations and finishes due to rising damp and salinity. As conservation consultants ZRS were responsible for the planning and supervision of the conservation works on the site included underpinning of the historic foundations, conservation of the historic masonry fabric, replacement of carbonated concrete elements with traditional timber lintels and the in-situ repair of the intricate carved gypsum ornaments.
The completed project sets a new standard for monument conservation and re-use in the region by combining cutting edge engineering solutions with a respectful approach to the use of traditional natural building materials and techniques. The restoration of the Outer Palace in its traditional fabric without the use of air conditioning showcases how the vernacular design of buildings in the region provided mechanisms for coping with the local climate without reliance on fossil resources.