Dubai launches first architecture biennial

 The Dubai Water Canal during its construction stage is just one example of the constantly changing urban environment in Dubai. Courtesy Arch. Season '17.

The Dubai Water Canal during its construction stage is just one example of the constantly changing urban environment in Dubai. Courtesy Arch. Season '17.

The first biennial dedicated to architecture will begin in Dubai next year. The event is planned to become a city-wide calendar of events with numerous contributors such as academics, architects, industry specialists, institutions, writers and members of the public who will provide a range of opportunities to explore everything about the built environment in Dubai. 

Whilst the arrangements for the 2018 event are still in the planning stages, what is set in stone is a summit - Arch. Season ’17 - acting as a launch pad to collate ideas and garner direct feedback from the community about what they expect from an architecture biennial.

The event’s founder, Sonia Brewin, began by collecting texts from a variety of contributors who were asked the same question: “What is your favourite building, place, or space in Dubai?" Replies had to be 50 - 150 words long and focus primarily on lived experience. “A balanced respect for simple infrastructure and the global architectural icons of the city emerged as did a yearning to safeguard its character,” she says. “With an eye to this and looming international needs I hope we increase awareness of the subtleties of Dubai's style, making room for expertise and experience to co-join new ideas and philosophies.”

The event will begin on Saturday, November 11, 2017 with a majlis-style discussion in Alserkal Avenue created with the UAE architectural blogging team behind thetrypticnote and with Abdulla Essa Al-Ghurair. Then over the next week and in parallel with Dubai Design Week, there will be a showcase of design and architecture from leading creatives around the world at SVENM, the boutique design studio that Brewin co-manages. There will also be a collaboration between SVENM and contemporary Danish brand, Quooker.

 Concrete, an OMA designed building in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai. Courtesy Arch. Season '17.

Concrete, an OMA designed building in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai. Courtesy Arch. Season '17.

Executives from the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), the Dutch architectural firm that built Alserkal Avenue’s multi-use space Concrete will also be in town to give personal tours. The following weekend, there will be open house tours around the area to uncover fascinating stories about the buildings in Dubai such as the unlikely story of how a Renzo Piano tower in Tokyo inspired Al Quoz's most iconic factory.  Activities continue until the last weekend in November when an open public consultation about plans for the 2018 Architecture Biennial will be hosted.