Principal architects Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto will curate the UAE's National Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2020, after beating nearly 100 companies in a design competition.
They will explore sea salt – a traditional and locally-sourced building material – and its potential for developing sustainable habitats in arid environments.
The multidisciplinary Dubai-based practice has worked on culturally significantly projects in the region, including Dubai’s Jameel Arts Centre, Hai d3 and Hayy Cultural Hub in Jeddah.
“Our approach to design interweaves natural light, time, structure and landscape with architecture. We are continually inspired by natural phenomena and the ways in which architects can adapt organic materials to create sustainable designs,” said curators Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto, Principal Architects of Ibda Design.
“We are honoured to have been selected as the curators for the National Pavilion UAE. We’d like to thank the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation for this opportunity to expand our research into this important global conversation. 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 commissioner of the UAE’s pavilion, Khulood Al Atiyat, manager of arts, culture and heritage at the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, said Ibda Design will bring a “fresh perspective” to Venice.
“Curating a Venice Biennale pavilion is a balance between representing region-specific ideas and telling untold local stories, while remaining relevant to global themes and conversations that resonate with the Biennale’s diverse audience,” Al Atiyat said in a press statement.
“Ibda Design maintains a uniquely cross-continental approach and its Principal Architects bring professional experience from Tokyo to Rotterdam, meaning they will be bringing a fresh perspective on the dialogue between the region’s architecture and the world’s to the National Pavilion UAE.”
The 2020 Venice Biennale runs for six months from May to November and will explore architecture’s ability to engage people and communities across digital, economic and socio-political divides.
Next year’s biennale has been curated by Lebanese architect Hashim Sarkis, who will explore the overall theme: ‘How Will We Live Together?’