What can we do with a warehouse?

Architect, Ben Ashton, describes the design aspiration behind an open-plan district in Abu Dhabi that fosters cross-disciplinary collaboration and boundless possibilities.

In the wake of Expo 2020, cities throughout the UAE have grasped an extraordinary opportunity—a chance to forge cutting-edge innovation districts, fusing physical and digital realms into an awe-inspiring infrastructure.

Among them, in Dubai itself, the Expo City rose from the ashes of the global conference, transforming into a vibrant tapestry of residential havens, bustling business hubs, and thriving community spaces. Seamlessly integrated with commercial and retail opportunities, this technology-driven environment has sustainability at its core and is animated by a vibrant year-round calendar of both business and social events.

This ground-breaking approach has reverberated across the UAE and beyond, with BDP at the forefront of designing similar visionary districts in the region. Presently, the construction of Abu Dhabi’s transformative innovation hub in Mina Zayed is underway, drawing inspiration from creative hotspots like Alserkal Avenue. But make no mistake—this approach is entirely different. It’s not merely an incremental step forward; it is an audacious leap.

For decades, Mina Zayed’s geographical location and historical significance have solidified its position as a cultural crossroads, a hub of trade and commerce within Abu Dhabi. Nestled amidst the bustling traditional markets along the water’s edge lies a linear grid of versatile warehouses, poised to undergo a remarkable metamorphosis into Miza—a tangible manifestation of the open, flexible, and refreshingly unpretentious spaces, coveted by creative minds.


Miza represents an emerging neighbourhood teeming with diverse entrepreneurial communities. It acts as a kind of social and business experiment in the emirate. Within its borders, industry biases will vanish, replaced by a profound understanding that true innovation and disruption often thrive amidst the unconventional. It will be a haven for unique perspectives, a playground where boundaries blur, and conventions are challenged, ultimately giving rise to new possibilities.

This ethos and structure resonate deeply within us. Like BDP, Miza embraces originality, invention, and reinvention—an invitation to immerse in cross-disciplinary collaboration. Just like in our studios, at Miza, new ideas will effortlessly transcend sectors, creating value and sparking inspiration.

From micro-units to sprawling warehouses, we are embarking on a journey of adaptation and reimagination. Existing structures become the foundation for a mixed-use development meticulously designed to accommodate boundless potential and cater to the vivid imagination of its occupants. In Miza, no industry or practice shall find itself confined – it is a space where each can truly make its mark. It is fundamentally open-plan.

It’s an original approach but this district does not exist in isolation. Miza serves as a vital piece of the wider masterplan, a driving force behind the regeneration of the area. It pays homage to the enduring legacy of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, enhancing livelihoods and propelling the economies of Abu Dhabi and the UAE forward. Supported by The Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artists Fellowship, this project acts as a catalyst, nurturing the growth of entrepreneurial communities. It fosters new connections, encourages collaboration with established organizations, and unveils unparalleled investment opportunities.

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