Two UAE art venues nominated for Aga Khan Prize
Two of the UAE’s premier art venues have been shortlisted for the 2019 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Sharjah Art Foundation’s Al Mureijah Art Spaces, which serve as a venue for Sharjah Biennials and the extensive programme of Sharjah Art Foundation exhibitions are on the list of 20 projects alongside Alserkal Avenue’s Concrete, a multipurpose venue for non-profit presentations.
Both venues are crucial to the infrastructure of the UAE’s art scene and this is also the first time a Dubai-based project has been shortlisted for the prestigious award. Also on the list is the Wasit Wetland, a bird watching sanctuary also based in Sharjah.
Concrete is the first building in the UAE to be completed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), founded by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas. Commissioned by Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal in 2015, Concrete was inaugurated in March 2017. To date, it has hosted five museum-grade, non-profit exhibitions in collaboration with world-renowned institutions including Victoria and Albert Museum, Hayward Gallery, the Atassi Foundation for Arts & Culture, UAE Unlimited, and the Samdani Art Foundation, and a number of cultural experiences.
Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, Founder of Alserkal, said he felt proud that the structure had been nominated, particularly as it was “commissioned to foster dialogue around the notion of preservation in the context of modern architecture.”
Inaugurated with Sharjah Biennial 11 in 2013, Al Mureijah Art Spaces were designed by Mona El-Mousfy, founder of SpaceContinuum and Architecture Consultant for Sharjah Art Foundation over the last decade, and Sharmeen Azam Inayat, architect, researcher and former member of Sharjah Art Foundation’s design team (2010–2014). The five new buildings integrate seamlessly with the existing historic neighbourhood so that these world-class spaces for contemporary art complement the coral brick buildings of old Sharjah. The exhibition spaces are combined with courtyards, open squares and an interconnected roofscape are intended to provide diverse art experiences.
Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation said she was honoured to have been been shortlisted. “A critical part of our core mission at the foundation is preserving the surrounding area’s heritage and history while renovating and adapting it to exhibit contemporary artworks. By working closely with the local community and talented architects, designers, and artists, we’ve been able to create vibrant spaces that fit within the context of the neighbourhood.”
Recipients of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture will be announced in the autumn of 2019. Winning works will receive a $1 million prize.
The nine members of the 2019 Master Jury are Anthony Kwamé Appiah, a British-born Ghanaian-American philosopher; Meisa Batayneh, founder and principal architect of maisam architects & engineers; Sir David Chipperfield, whose practice has built over 100 projects for both the private and public sectors; Elizabeth Diller, founding partner of a design studio whose practice spans the fields of architecture, multi-media performance and digital media; Edhem Eldem, Professor of History at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, and the Collège de France; Mona Fawaz, Professor in Urban Studies and Planning, Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy, at the American University of Beirut; Kareem Ibrahim, architect and urban researcher who has worked extensively in Historic Cairo; Ali M. Malkawi, Professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and founding director of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities; and Nondita Correa Mehrotra, an architect working in India and the United States and Director of the Charles Correa Foundation.