The exhibition is accompanied by a book that monitors the environmental and cultural value of the UAE

"The Emirates in Venice" ... sustainable solutions from local marshes

  • The "exhibition" will form a link between ancient environmental resources and innovative sustainability research.

    From the source

  • Rashid and Ahmed bin Shabib present in the "exhibition" the book "Formation of marshes", which monitors the environmental, societal and economic importance of the phenomenon of marsh formation.

    From the source

  • Marina Smiles, winner of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

    From the source


Within the framework of its 10th participation in the prominent international art exhibition, the Venice Biennale, the UAE National Pavilion presents a pioneering research study on a sustainable, environmentally friendly and alternative material to cement, which is inspired by the areas of the marshes (salt flats) scattered in the UAE, and is made of a mixture of salts and minerals. Extracted from brine resulting from the desalination process.

Whereas, the cement industry contributes about 8% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions.

On the basis of the general theme covered by the Venice Biennale under the title: “Coexistence and Harmony Together”, the curators of the National Pavilion exhibition, Wael Al-Awar and Kenichi Teramoto, are working on a research study on finding alternative solutions that address these two environmental challenges, by developing an alternative material for cement from oxide. Magnesium (MgO), made from recycled brine waste.

This strong and insoluble material for construction work is inspired by the crystallized salts and minerals in the marsh areas spread across the UAE (salt flats), which have been temporarily included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

"Soft Earth"

Visitors will be able to visit the "Plastic Earth" research laboratory on "Alserkal Avenue", to enjoy seeing samples of marshes, and other pictures and physical experiences.

The project will be accompanied by a book entitled: “Forming the marshes”, authored by researchers in urban studies: Rashid and Ahmed bin Shabib, and is expected to be published in May of this year.

This book monitors the environmental, societal and economic importance inherent in this natural phenomenon in detail, based on a current collection of research studies, personal articles and photographs.

This book will include an additional part edited and written by the architect, Marina Tabsum, winner of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, in which she details the journey and research study of the architects: One-eyed and Teramoto, during the exhibition «Flexible Land».

Prominent platform

Leila Bin Brik, Director of Coordination at the UAE National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, said: “The UAE National Pavilion is gaining great momentum as a prominent platform to shed light on the concepts of artistic research and evaluation, which in turn touches a series of international dialogues from a distinct local perspective.

The exhibition (A Soft Land) and the accompanying research study reinforce the UAE’s position within the global dialogue that deals with the future of architecture and its influential role in climate change and natural resources.

Recognition at a glance

Wael Al-Awar and Kenichi Teramoto, architects and curators of the National Pavilion exhibition, said: “The natural environment of the sabkha areas gives us an insight into the most important global challenge, and our discussion here is about climate change.

As part of our endeavors to find solutions capable of addressing the strong impact arising from industrial construction and water desalination processes, we are continuing our efforts in pursuit of our goal of developing the construction and architectural industry in the twenty-first century, by creating a sustainable material through which industrial waste can be recycled. And reduce the world's dependence on Portland cement ».

Resort to nature

Writers and authors Ahmed and Rashid bin Shabib said: “Vital issues such as: renewable energy, climate change and sustainability are gaining increasing importance, and soon they imposed themselves as a more urgent priority for our current generation, which prompted us to resort to nature and search for an answer to that.

Just imagine that using one square meter of sabkha can reduce carbon emissions further, compared to one square meter of rain forests, yet our knowledge of this natural resource is still in its early stages.

Our book explains that the marsh areas in the UAE are an essential component of our ecosystem, stressing their vital role in the growth of plants, animal migration, and the achievement of biological diversity.

"From Liwa to Mars"

In line with its continuing role as a prominent platform that hosts fruitful dialogues, the National Pavilion cooperated with the Dubai Future Foundation to host a series of public dialogues entitled: “From Liwa to Mars… Forming Sabbat”

This series will deal with topics and issues related to the exhibition and the sabkha areas.

The two curators will also participate in a dialogue session held on the sidelines of the World Around Summit, an international architectural conference that focuses on addressing urgent and pressing issues related to the environment, and achieving equality of opportunities and urban development, on January 30th.

Fourth post

The UAE's participation in the Venice Biennale began in 2009, through the national pavilion, in the 53rd International Art Exhibition, and participation continued in subsequent sessions.

This year marks the fourth participation of the UAE National Pavilion in the International Architecture Exhibition, from May 22 to November 21.

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