Qasr al Hosn began life in the 18th century as a coral and sea stone watchtower built by the Bani Yas tribes in Abu Dhabi. Its role was to command coastal trade routes and to protect the settlement that had grown up around the water sources they discovered on the island.
One of the most ingenious aspects of the structure is its traditional ‘Barjeel’ ventilation system – effectively an early form of air conditioning. Recessed arches built into the exterior walls would direct the prevailing sea breezes into the interior rooms via a network of narrow airways.
The age of the fort and its importance to Abu Dhabi’s history means that the conservation team has to take every care to avoid any damage to the authentic fabric of the original structure. This is especially true for interventions on the early watchtower, which is described as the biggest challenge for the architects and conservators due to the survival of so much of its original stonework.