Faysal Tabbarah to curate the National Pavilion of UAE at Venice Architecture Biennale 2023

Faysal Tabbarah to curate the National Pavilion of UAE at Venice Architecture Biennale 2023

The National Pavilion of the United Arab Emirates has announced details and curator about its exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 which will take place from Saturday 20 May to Sunday 26 November, 2023 in Venice, Italy. 

Faysal Tabbarah, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Architecture at the American University of Sharjah, has been announced as curator for the National Pavilion of the UAE upcoming participation in the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of Venice Architecture Biennale 2023, curated by Ghanaian-Scottish architect, academic, and novelist Professor Lesley Lokko. 

Faysal Tabbarah is also co-founder of Architecture + Other Things (A+OT), an experimental architecture and design studio based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. 

Tabbarah’s appointment was selected following the National Pavilion UAE’s open call which invited designers, architects and thinkers based in the UAE and around the world, to develop proposals for the 2023 architecture exhibition. 

The applicants were expected to explore “an intriguing aspect of the UAE’s architecture or built environment that contributes to the discourse around architectural practice locally, regionally, and internationally.”

Faysal Tabbarah to curate the National Pavilion of UAE at Venice Architecture Biennale 2023

Image courtesy of National Pavilion UAE La Biennale di Venezia. Photo by Faysal Tabbarah

In response to the call, the National Pavilion of the UAE selected Tabbarah’s research proposal that aims to explore the relationship between architecture and arid, or dry, landscapes in the UAE and reimagine them as spaces of abundance and productivity.

Tabbarah’s research findings, to be exhibited in Venice and supplemented with an accompanying publication, intend to respond to the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023’s theme The Laboratory of the Future, which is being curated by Ghanaian-Scottish architect, academic, educator and best-selling novelist, Lesley Lokko.

As Lokko stated, the Laboratory of the Future will re-examine the African continent where diversity and cultural identity are acknowledged with all its own layers – from organizational structures to individual skills and habits. 

“Aridity is a fast-approaching future condition for many regions”

“My approach will rely on integrating technology with land-based materials practices and knowledge found in arid landscapes in the UAE,” said curator Faysal Tabbarah, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Architecture at the American University of Sharjah. 

“I am honored to have been selected as the curator for the National Pavilion UAE, and I’d like to thank the Commissioner, the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation for this opportunity to expand on research that is becoming increasingly crucial to the architectural discourse globally.”

“Aridity is a fast-approaching future condition for many regions, and through this exhibition, we’ll explore their potential as spaces of abundance and productivity,” Tabbarah added.

The appointment marks Tabbarah’s first participation as a curator of a national pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, and his second participation in the Architecture Biennale as a whole. He has previously collaborated with the Kuwait Pavilion’s curators in 2021 for their presentation at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition, titled Space Wars.

Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth said: “We are happy to offer the support of the Ministry of Culture and Youth to this year’s curator. The ministry leads the cultural and creative sector in the UAE, and works to strengthen the UAE’s position on the global creative map. Tabbarah’s project will certainly contribute to the development of a thriving architecture scene in the UAE. At the ministry, we believe in empowering our creatives for them to contribute to the country’s holistic and sustainable development.”

“The pavilion will add new resources to the UAE’s architectural discourse”

“This year, we invite the world to discover another thought-provoking story from the UAE curated by Faysal Tabbarah that will add new resources to the UAE’s architectural discourse. In supporting Tabbarah and his research we hope that the UAE will be able to provoke conversation with other communities around the world facing similar conditions of aridity, and possibly together find tools to make better futures,” said Laila Binbrek, Coordinating Director, National Pavilion UAE.

“The team and I are incredibly proud of the role National Pavilion UAE is playing in contributing to the country’s cultural and creative development since 2009, and we are committed to delivering on our mandate of telling the UAE’s untold stories for years to come,” Binbrek added.

Alongside his role in academia, Tabbarah’s teaching, research and practice interrogate the relationships between regional environmental and architectural imaginaries, or how people bring their natural surroundings to bear on how they understand and shape their world, to develop alternative building practices that are rooted in their surrounding material and cultural environments.

The National Pavilion UAE will present its exhibition for the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, from 20 May to 26 November 2023. The preview of the exhibition will take place from 18 and 19 May, 2022.

In 2021, the National Pavilion of the UAE, named Wetland, presented a large-scale prototype structure created from an innovative, environmentally friendly cement made of recycled industrial waste brine, accompanied by commissioned photography by Farah Al Qasimi. 

UAE’s Wetland Pavilion also won the Golden Lion Award for Best National Participation at the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale. 

2023 will mark the UAE’s 12th exhibition at the Art and Architecture International Exhibitions organized by La Biennale di Venezia since 2009 and its 5th participation in the International Architecture Exhibition. 

The National Pavilion UAE is commissioned by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Youth and has a permanent pavilion at La Biennale Di Venezia’s Arsenale – Sale d’Armi.

Top image: The curator Faysal Tabbarah, courtesy of National Pavilion UAE La Biennale di Venezia.Image by Augustine Parades.

> via National Pavilion UAE

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