With the inauguration of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, 60 nations from across the world showcased unique solutions to the question of “How will we live together”. Neither the pandemic nor its repercussions got in the way of the curators' creative process. Instead, they took it as a factor to explore how the notion of 'living together' has changed over the past year, and how they can reimagine better built environments. ArchDaily had the opportunity to meet with architect Wael Al Awar, one of the co-curators of the UAE Pavilion, to discuss how the pavilion's innovative material came to be and what it means for the future of architecture.
One of the recurring themes at the Venice Biennale was the deterioration of the environment and how it has changed the way people live, work, and commute. Many pavilions highlighted the sources of this deterioration and provided insights on how we should sustain it. As a solution, the curators of the UAE pavilion decided to look at the local geography of the United Arab Emirates to find alternatives to Calcium Oxide (known as free lime in the construction industry) since cement is one of the key emitters of the world's carbon dioxide.
For Al Awar, landscape does not always mean green. The issue was of climate urgency, so their solution was to look at the Sabkha, a cementitious part of the coast where saline minerals have accumulated for a hundred years to form a rigid surface. This material has been used extensively in several coastal countries in the past, so the team created 2,400 modules, all drawn by hand and poured into soil molds, to form the pavilion's installation as a prototype of reimagined vernacular architecture.
We invite you to check out ArchDaily's comprehensive coverage of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, and watch our official playlist on Youtube featuring exclusive interviews with architects and curators of the Biennale.