Wednesday 17 April 2024

A showcase of AlUla-inspired works

AlUla design initiatives go on show in AlJadidah Arts District

AlULA, February 16, 2024

Design Space AlUla, a focal point for showcasing the ancient Saudi town’s wide-ranging design initiatives, kicked off on February 15 with its inaugural exhibition that introduced the thinking process behind 10 recent AlUla-inspired works across design, architecture and urban planning.

‘Mawrid: Celebrating Inspired Design’ will be the first of a series of exhibitions that will run until June 1.

Located in the AlJadidah Arts District, Design Space AlUla provides exhibition, workshop and archive space, and is designed to foster collaboration among design professionals, students, and design enthusiasts.

It aims at strengthening AlUla’s legacy across the cultural sphere as a catalyst for creative inspiration and design through its series of exhibitions, workshops and archive.

Under the direction of Sara Ghani, who also curated the gallery’s inaugural exhibition, Design Space AlUla promises to engage with emerging and established design professionals, regionally and internationally; and to explore design principles and creative design processes through the lens of AlUla’s natural and cultural landscape.

The space will be inclusive of all design disciplines from architecture and urban planning, to product and graphic design. It will support and engage with the design community, while highlighting the wider role of design in the region’s character, quality of life and wider economy.

Design Space AlUla is a contemporary building made of corten steel, glass and polished concrete. The architecture, designed by Gio Forma Studio, is a homage to the breezeblock used widely across buildings in the surrounding AlJadidah Arts District.

Shaped around a plaza, the luminous courtyard design is complemented by the exposed geometrical brickwork, taking the form of an intricate lattice facade, bringing further light and natural ventilation throughout the building.

Projects explored in ‘Mawrid: Celebrating Inspired Design’ include:

  • Gio Forma Studio/Black Engineering’s Maraya, a 9,740 sq m mirror-clad venue that blends with its awe-inspiring surroundings, echoing the natural textures and colours of AlUla
  • Plans for the renovation of Madrasat Addeera, AlUla’s first arts and design centre, by UK based Hopkins Architects
  • Roth Architecture’s Azulik Eco Resort which draws inspiration from the stories of wind and erosion, ensuring the project seamlessly integrates with its natural surroundings
  • SAL Architects’ renovation of the historic Ammar Bin Yasser Mosque, which collaborated closely with the community to ensure a respectful and harmonious transformation
  • AlUla’s Cultural Oasis District Masterplan, guided by Prior + Partners in collaboration with Allies and Morrison, each driven by the mission to cherish and protect the cultural and natural landscape that has made AlUla a place where communities, travellers, traders and pilgrims have, for millennia, wanted to live, pass through, rest, and exchange cultural traditions.

Other exhibitors include finalists from the second edition of AlUla Design Award Imane Mellah, Teeb, Sara Kanoo and Shaddah Studio, and representation from the first edition of the AlUla Design Residency.

The residency is a five-month programme in AlUla that brings together designers and experts on-site to work across multiple disciplines such as infrastructure development and architectural design, exploring public realm interventions and urban furniture, sustainability and local building materials. 

The five design practices engaged in the residency are: Bahraini – Danish from Bahrain and Denmark, Hall Haus from France, Studio Leo Orta from France, Studio Raw Material from India, and Leen Ajlan from Saudi Arabia.

The exhibition also explores the visual identity for Design Space AlUla created by Clara Sancho Studio and design agency 29Letters from Madrid. The logo draws on a wide range of inspiration from across AlUla, from ancient inscriptions at Jabal Ikmah to the distinctive breezeblocks in AlJadidah and other architectural elements of AlUla’s more recent visual terrain.

The exhibition design by Atelier Brückner takes visitors on a multi-sensory journey through AlUla-inspired design, weaving together the diverse works of selected designers into a captivating spatial narrative.

Sara Ghani said: "Design Space AlUla commits to celebrating AlUla’s natural history, its cultural heritage, and vernacular materials – inspiring sustainable futures that are rooted in place. Our ambition is to fuel the design economy, provide resources to designers to explore and experiment, and be a place for visitors to research, explore and connect with the processes behind AlUla’s design journey."

The launch programme, which runs until tomorrow (February 17), will include keynote presentations by Sabine Marcelis on Pushing Boundaries, and Paul Cocksedge on Design and Human Interaction; in conversation with Roth Architecture and SAL Architects on ‘Who is this building for?’.

A panel discussion with Prior and Partners on Creating the Cultural District; a workshop with Sara Kanoo on AlUla at Play; and several other sessions and design tours. – TradeArabia News Service


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