The 17th Venice Biennale of Architecture kicked off in Venice last week, and will go on till 21 November 2021.
Taking place at the Giardini, Arsenale, and Forte Marghera, the Venice biennale features a total of 61 national participants from 46 countries. This year, the festival is themed around How will we live together? It covers matters of diversity, home, emerging communities, and the global society.
Of the 61 participants, 23 will feature their exhibits at the Arsenale. These include two GCC pavilions–the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
THE UAE PAVILION
Commissioned by the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, the UAE pavilion focuses on crystallisation of salt in the region’s native sabkhas, or salt flats. The project is called Wetland, and is curated by Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto.
Wetland explores the sabkhas as a source for renewable construction materials.
The crystallisation process in the sabkhas offers a locally sourced alternative to Portland cement, which contributes 8% of global carbon emissions.
Scientists from Tokyo, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah have been working towards reproducing the crystallisation process, the results of which are on display at the UAE pavilion in the Venice Biennale of Architecture. Some of the research, including casting module shapes for use in a full-scale structure, took place at the Wetland Lab at Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue.
THE SAUDI ARABIA PAVILION
The Saudi Arabia pavilion will exhibit two projects at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. The first, After Illusion, is commissioned by Misk Art Institute.
Curated by Eiman Elgibreen, After Illusion is about artist and exhibitor at the Saudi Arabia pavilion Zahrah Al Ghamdi’s relationship with her home over time. It seeks to represent the familiar feeling of home as it changes over the years, as well as Al Ghamdi’s own journey to self-realisation.
The title of the poem comes from an ancient Arabic poem by Zuhayr bin Abī Sūlmā about being away from home.
Accommodations, the second project, is commissioned by the Architecture and Design Authority in Saudi Arabia. It explores the theme of ‘otherisation’, in spatial and social terms. It displays how quarantine, hosting, and housing take character in temporary and permanent structures, in the backdrop of contagion.
The project visits large events such as pilgrimages and pandemics to document how physical spaces respond to emergencies, by focusing on the contradictions arising out of the need for both separation and accommodation.
Photo credit: www.english.alarabiya.net, www.thenationalnews.com/arts-culture/wetland-how-the-uae-s-sustainable-exhibition-at-the-venice-biennale-of-architecture-came-together-1.1226908, https://www.labiennale.org/en/architecture/2021
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