Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

Dubai-based Ibda design to represent UAE at next Venice Biennale

The Lebanese-Japanese duo are behind the Jameel Arts Centre and a pavilion at d3

Wael Alawar and Kenichi Teramoto of ibda design, who have won the open call for the next UAE representation at the Venice Biennale for architecture. Image National Pavilion UAE - La Biennale di Venezia
Wael Alawar and Kenichi Teramoto of ibda design, who have won the open call for the next UAE representation at the Venice Biennale for architecture. Image National Pavilion UAE - La Biennale di Venezia

Ibda design, a Dubai-based architectural studio that has recently built a number of cultural sites in the Gulf, will represent the UAE at the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Ibda design comprise Wael Al Awar, a Lebanese architect, and Kenichi Taramoto, from Japan. They are behind the new Jameel Arts Centre, on Dubai Creek, as well as Hai d3, a pavilion at the Dubai Design District that hosts performances and other events.

In a second commission for the Saudi foundation Art Jameel, they are also designing the upcoming Hayy: Creative Hub, in Jeddah, which is due to open in 2020. Ibda’s buildings have won several awards, and the pair have developed a distinctive, refined aesthetic born of their unique backgrounds. As they like to say, between Lebanese and Japanese, they have no shared language, except for that of architecture.

This is the fourth year the UAE has participated in the architecture pavilion, and the first time the National Pavilion UAE organisation has put out an open call for submissions. The pavilion is commissioned by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and is regarded a particular entity in the UAE landscape, being the only institution to speak for the country nationally. Every exhibition returns to the UAE and travels to cultural institutions across the emirates.

The view of Jameel Arts Centre from Dubai Creek 
The view of Jameel Arts Centre from Dubai Creek

Ibda’s proposal calls for a responsiveness to the local environment, using sea salt as a naturally-occurring building material. Their previous projects have also been sensitive to their surroundings. The Jameel Arts Centre, a collection of small buildings in a light, reflective cladding, hews closer to the grey waters of Dubai Creek beyond it, rather than the sand-coloured building of the Versace Hotel that overlook the site.

“We are continually inspired by natural phenomena and the ways in which architects can adapt organic materials to create sustainable designs,” the pair said in a statement. “Salt is a geologically fascinating substance as well as one of the UAE’s most abundant natural resources, and through our exhibition we’ll explore its potential as an environmentally-friendly building material.”

The Venice Biennale for architecture runs from May to November 2020. The main exhibition, How Will We Live Together?, is curated by the Lebanese architect Hashim Sarkis, who will use the forum to explore the potential for cross-community engagement in a time when social and economic division is plaguing many parts of the world.

Updated: September 26, 2019 08:55 AM

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