Initiatives for the UAE to become an international design hub are well underway with the inaugural edition of the Sharjah Architecture Triennial opening this Saturday, November 9, just days before Dubai Design Week 2019.
Founded by the late Sheikh Khalid Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Urban Planning Council in November 2017, the Triennial is three-month exhibition led by a guest curator every three years encouraging local and international experts from design, science, and policy-making backgrounds to engage in open dialogue with the wider public on urban spaces and the influence architecture has on the MENA region and Global South’s legacy.
This year, the theme is “Rights of Future Generations,” where participants will discuss the long-standing impact of climate change on the unique environmental, social, and economic spheres of the emirate as well as surrounding nations through artistic projects and research investigations grounded in architecture.
Running until February 8, 2020, the exhibition will be held in various historical and cultural locations across Sharjah, such as the Al-Qasimiyah School, the Al Jubail Souq Fruit & Vegetable Market, and the Mleiha Archeological site. Curated by Adrian Lahoud, dean of the school of architecture at the Royal College of Art in London, the exhibition showcases work from various disciplines in a melting pot geared towards sustainable progress.
Throughout the four-day opening program, guests can freely explore special film screenings, panel discussions, art installations, and live musical performances. Each day centers around a topic—Devotional Practices, Signs and Transmission, and Forms of Afterlife—featuring many renowned speakers, including H.E. Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa and H.E. Amb. María Fernanda Espinosa, President of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly.
“The theme is an invitation to radically rethink fundamental questions about architecture and its power to create and sustain alternative modes of existence,” said Lahoud. “The last decades have seen a massive expansion in rights, yet this expansion has failed to address long-standing challenges around environmental change and inequality.”
As the first major architecture platform of its kind in this part of the world, the Triennial is building a platform for the next wave of design leaders to help advance contemporary visions and challenge the architectural stereotypes often applied to the region while still maintaining the traditions of the community—an intricate balancing act rivaling that of the Burj Khalifa.