Sharjah Architecture Triennial
Sharjah Architecture Triennial 2023
   Reading 4 min

The second edition of the Sharjah Architecture Triennial (SAT), which was launched on the 11th of November, 2023 and will remain on view until the 10th of March, 2024, is dedicated to the theme “The Beauty of Impermanence: An Architecture of Adaptability”. Curated by prominent Lagos-based architect Tosin Oshinowo, this grand exhibition puts the spotlight on the Global South, its issues of scarcity, and presents creative and resourceful architectural solutions for such difficult conditions.

Featuring projects from 29 contributors — notable architects and studios from various countries — the SAT 2023 draws an image of a more sustainable and accessible future. Those taking part in the exhibition collectively address the challenges of the current climate crisis, examine the built environment, and embrace regional traditions.

Sumaya Dabbagh, EARTH TO EARTH, 2023. Mudbrick, mud plaster, reconstituted palm frond boards (Desertboard).
Courtesy of Sharjah Architecture Triennial. Photo: Danko Stjepanovic.

The triennial is being held at several venues across Sharjah, such as the Al Qasimia School, the Al Jubail vegetable market, the Old Slaughterhouse, Industrial Area 5, the Sharjah Mall, and the Al Madam Village. In their displayed installations harmoniously integrated into these locations, the participants explore consumer culture, colonialism, locality, waste recycling, traditional materials, and recovering techniques, among other themes.

In the Al Qasimiyah School, 18 participants exhibit their projects. The highlights include, for example, Dust as an Accidental Gift by Angolan interdisciplinary artist Sandra Poulson. The work explores the dust in Luanda, which reflects its socio-economic, political, and cultural divisions. It consists of assembled objects made from discarded cardboard and starch and chosen for their crucial roles in the everyday life of a Luandan. In the School, one can also find the 3-Minute Corridor structure by Wallmakers (an architectural practice established by Kerala-based architect Vinu Daniel). Built from desert sand and 1425 used tyres, this dome-like installation explores global waste through material reuse.

Wallmakers, 3-Minute Corridor, 2023. 1425 recycled tyres, sand, 200 m2.
Courtesy of Sharjah Architecture Triennial. Photo: Danko Stjepanovic.

The Al Jubail vegetable market features works created by six contributors. The exhibits include the SHJ 1X72 – 1X89 installation by Brooklyn-based artist Olalekan Jeyifous who is famous for his inventive design practice exploring the relationships between architecture, community, and the environment. The retro-futurist artwork composed of 3D prints, videos, photomontage, and wallpaper touches upon Sharjah and the Emirates’ oil boom and evolution in the 20th century. Thomas Egoumenides, a French architect and designer, displays his modular art piece The Ship of Theseus comprising plastic thread spools and threaded rods. It breaks conventional design norms and investigates the aesthetic possibilities of discarded objects, challenging the culture of waste.

Thomas Egoumenides, The Ship of Theseus, 2023. Installation, plastic thread spools, metal threaded rods.
Courtesy of Sharjah Architecture Triennial. Photo: Danko Stjepanovic.

In the Old Slaughterhouse, one can see the new edition of the Anthropocene Museum by Kenyan studio Cave_bureau. Taking visitors on a “slaughterhouse tour”, it focuses on the domestic animals consumed in the city of Sharjah and explores our attitudes to thoughtless consumption and growth. The second work exhibited here is Utility of Being: A Paradox of Proximity by fibre artist Adrian Pepe. It is a site-specific installation incorporating the pelts of the Awassi sheep (a byproduct of the slaughtering process), which is a metaphor for understanding the tension lying at the edge of survival and commerce. It challenges notions of human-animal connectedness and the fragility of biological existence.

Adrian Pepe, Utility of Being: A Paradox of Proximity, 2023. Awassi Sheep pelts.
Courtesy of Sharjah Architecture Triennial. Photo: Danko Stjepanovic.

In the unfinished and abandoned Sharjah Mall, there is Super Limbo by Limbo Accra (a spatial design practice founded by Dominique Petit-Frère and Emil Grip). This architectural and art pavilion, which is a response to the many incomplete building projects in the Global South, pays tribute to the potential of unfinished spaces.

Limbo Accra, Super Limbo, 2023. Mixed-media installation. Courtesy of Sharjah Architecture Triennial.
Photo: Danko Stjepanovic.

In Industrial Area 5, one can look at We Rest at the Bird’s Nest by Papa Omotayo (MOE+ AA) and Eve Nnaji (ADD_apt), a collaborating team based in Lagos (Nigeria). The installation features an array of small nesting rooms for the region’s birds and celebrates the vulnerable nature discovered in one of Sharjah’s several industrial areas.

Meanwhile, DAAR (a Palestinian and Swedish studio established by Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti) has installed its Concrete Tent in the mysterious abandoned 1970s Al Madam Village. Through this artwork produced using a repurposed solid wood frame and concrete-like appliqué, the studio draws our attention to the permanence of temporary conditions. Visitors are welcome to step into the tent and reflect on migrant populations and their living conditions across the globe.

DAAR, Concrete Tent, 2023. Recycled wood, jute fabric. Courtesy of Sharjah Architecture Triennial.
Photo: Danko Stjepanovic.

To get more information about the Sharjah Architecture Triennial 2023 and read about all featured projects, please visit the exhibition’s official website.

You might also be interested in looking at Tarabot, an immersive architectural pavilion in Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park, Dubai.

To stay tuned and be sure that you will not miss our latest art news, you can join our Telegram channel.