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22 April 2024

UAE Pavilion at Biennale Architettura an architectural provocation: curator Tabbarah


The main goal of Aridly Abundant is to present an architectural provocation at the Biennale Architettura, and challenge the relationships between technology and how it can be integrated with historical land-based practices, said Faysal Tabbarah, curator of the National Pavilion UAE - La Biennale di Venezia NPUAE.

During the inauguration of the National Pavilion UAE’s 12th exhibition at the La Biennale di Venezia International Art and Architecture Exhibitions and the 5th participation at the International Architecture Exhibition, Tabbarah recalled the gestation period of Aridly Abundant and the process he and his team went through to conceive the concept of the Pavillion.

He explained that the title of the exhibition is based on an oxymoron, a play on words that combines aridity and abundance. The entire exhibition intends to provoke critical reflection, investigation, and responses to problems and questions by learning from the historical practives rooted in the UAE.

Tabbarah provoked a discussion on a future built in, with, and for aridity by maximizing the potential of natural resources. “We explained that Building in Aridity: what are the historical building practices existing in arid landscapes like the UAE? We talked about building with aridity: which materials arid landscapes give us? And we also thought about building for aridity and future conditions: what is the lesson coming from the UAE for places that will face aridity in the future? What architectural conditions can become possible if we reimagine arid landscapes as spaces of abundance?”

Born in Aleppo, Faysal Tabbarah is an Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Architecture at the College of Architecture, Art and Design at American University of Sharjah (AUS), and co-founder of the experimental architecture and design studio Architecture + Other Things (A+OT), which is based in Sharjah. Tabbarah is also the curator of the National Pavilion UAE for the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia 2023.

Tabbarah’s work, across teaching, research, and practice, explores the relationships between regional environmental and architectural imaginaries, or how people bring their natural surroundings to bear on how they understand and shape their world, to develop alternative building practices that are rooted in their surrounding material and cultural environments. To achieve this, Tabbarah’s work moves between computational tools, emergent technologies, materials research and historical archives.

“We wanted the critic and the audience to challenge their own perceptions about arid landscapes, as well as building in arid landscapes. The Biennale Architettura is one of the most important arts and architectural exhibition in the world, it is a place where ambitions and art provocations ca be put it there for feedback to be received and further develop ideas”, he concluded.