Aridly Abundant is the title of the body of research being exhibited at the UAE National Pavilion at the 18th annual International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia. The Pavilion was curated by Faysal Tabbarah, Associate Dean and Professor of Architecture at the College of Architecture, Art, and Design at the American University of Sharjah. The exhibition explores the possibility of architectural possibilities in, with, and for arid landscapes.
The theme of this year’s biennale is The Laboratory of the Future, curated by Ghanaian-Scottish architect, academic, educator, and best-selling novelist, Lesley Lokko. In line with this, the UAE Pavilion is set to explore how future and contemporary technological practices can be integrated into the built environment for landscapes such as dunes, wadis, desert plateaus, and coastal plains.
The pavilion’s space will be transformed into a reflection of these types of terrain. The environment will have spatial, material, and tactical qualities of arid environments. These will become the backdrop for the different architectural simulations which investigates future modes of building in, with, and for these contexts.
The three areas that will be explored in the exhibition are:
- Building in Aridity: Exploring how land-based practices can be paired with contemporary technologies to react to the challenges created by the surrounding conditions of aridity.
- Building with Aridity: Exploring which material practices that immerge from these landscapes can begin to construct contextually valid and sustainable built environments.
- Building for Aridity: A call for all architectural practices to explore the resources and knowledge embedded into these landscapes. This area focuses on how the future of the built environment can leverage these critical to build the future as a result of the climate crisis.
The curator has specifically mentioned that this research is a collaborative effort to understand how the UAE and any other nations with similar climate crises can begin to work around it in the future. The aim of the exhibition within the setting of the Biennale Architettura is to have an open discourse and a global exchange of ideas that create solutions for the future.
Accompanying the exhibition is a publication, referred to as a travelogue. This will serve as a guide to ground the higher concept at large: exploring aridity as a concept and ridding it of notions of scarcity. The concept orients “aridity” as a dynamic condition that can be a shared identity or a state of mind. The publication will experiment with mediums such as fiction, poetry, scientific essays, travel stories, and photography, with the UAE as the main case study for the basis of aridity. The book is co-edited by Faysal Tabbarah, the curator, and Meitha Almazrooei, a Ph.D. student in History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a graduate of Columbia University and the founder of WTD Magazine.
Aridly Abundant will be presented at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia from 20 May to 26 November 2023. The Italian Pavilion, “Everyone Belongs to Everyone Else” will also be showing at the 2023 Venice Biennale. The Romanian Pavilion has also recently announced its exhibition, exploring past technological innovations and how they can be applied in the future.