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AUS designers are shaping UAE’s urban landscape
Over the past 50 years, the UAE has experienced urban growth at an unprecedented rate and is known globally for its iconic architecture and ambitious urban developments. However, once dependent on international expertise, the UAE now benefits from a growing base of home-grown talent, many of whom started at the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS).
For more than 20 years, CAAD has been the incubator for some of the region’s leading architects and designers, many of whom are featured in the inaugural d3 Architecture Festival, which is being held at Dubai Design District from November 11 to 13 in partnership with Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA Gulf). Exploring the theme of “Identity, context and placemaking in the Gulf,” the festival will reveal the new landscape of architecture in the GCC region as the emirate's first platform to promote regional architecture and urbanism, and sustainable development.
The festival is curated by Juan Roldán, Associate Professor of Architecture at CAAD, and its exhibition has been designed by a team of CAAD interior designers including alumnae Rima Chalha, Sana Fathima and Mariam Al Juwaied and students Maha Babiker, Lama Al Shadid and Wafa Al Falahi.
“Through a physical exhibition and round tables, the festival will showcase what we can consider a new shift in the region's architectural scene. The iconic landmarks for which the region is known have allowed a new landscape of critical thinking, thanks to the intellectual work developed at different cultural and educational institutions, pondering problems of the past and allowing new ways of operating and designing the built environment,” said Roldán.
“The exhibition will portray the UAE’s new cartography showcasing architectural works and connecting the dots between them and the stakeholders that make it possible: architecture schools, cultural institutions, and public and private clients who understand architecture as an added value for the economy, society and the built environment at large,” he said.
Projects both designed and built in Sharjah under the auspices of Shurooq will be featured, such as the House of Wisdom by Foster and Partners, Bee’ah Headquarters by Zaha Hadid Architects, Mleiha Museum by Dabbagh architects and Alfaya Lodge by ANARCHITECT. Among these internationally acclaimed firms are works by CAAD alumni, including Vila AL and Al Bada Townhouse by Binchy & Binchyon with recent graduate Basil Al-Taher, as well as Nahil Farm House by Ardh, a Dubai-based design firm founded and led by alumnus Omran Alowais.
The exhibition will also feature a series of student projects, four of which are by recent CAAD graduates. The works were selected by an international jury of designers with strong ties to the region, and, following strict protocols, all jury members related to the educational industry did not vote in the student category. Professor George Katodrytis, Head of the Department of Architecture at CAAD, attributed the success of CAAD graduates to the college’s strong emphasis on design education through diverse experiences, including critical thinking, design processes and learning through making.
“I believe many of the shortlisted works by CAAD students will break many preconceptions of the architecture in the region and this exhibition will demonstrate that CAAD truly is shaping architectural and design education and the profession in the UAE and throughout the region,” said Katodrytis.
Featured in the student exhibition are recent Inspireli global award-winners Nada Khalaf and Mariam Jacob with Ahmed Noeman, Jace Fernandes and Assistant Professor Marisa Oliver and their work “Transpire” at Al-Wathba Wetland Reserve in Abu Dhabi; Mariama M.M. Kah with Associate Professor Faysal Tabbarah and their work “Spiritual Construct” at Al Khan, Corniche Street in Sharjah; Nohair Elmessalami, Hussien Hijazi with Professor George Newlands and their work “Khawaneej Music School” in Dubai; and Saagarika Dias with Professor George Katodrytis and their work “Tectonic Tangrams” at Sankha Salt Flats in Abu Dhabi.
The d3 Architecture Festival is being held at Dubai Design District and is open to the public.
For more information about the College of Architecture, Art and Design at American University of Sharjah, visit www.aus.edu/caad.