Al Falaj, the Arabic term used to describe the water channels commonly found across the Arabian Peninsula, once stretched across the UAE. Mainly intended for life and settlements to arise in the otherwise harsh desert climate, the native water irrigation system spans kilometers, subtracting underground water sources to the surface by excavating and building a complex network of tunnels, vertical shafts and channels. A collaboration between Cultural Engineering and Case Design, the material exhibited is a result of ongoing research conducted across the UAE. It is based on studies of the few authentic examples of Falaj channels still in use and aims to explore how they could be adapted for use today, especially in the UAE’s rapidly globalizing cities. Applied over centuries of development, the Falaj channels have become places where public and private realms meet, facilitating exchange and interaction. Their unique technique of dividing water and sharing resources in this climate results in strong communal societies.
"Al Falaj: Water System's of the Gulf's Oases" is an exhibition of Cultural Engineering and Case Design envisioned for the UAE's pavilion in London Design Biennale's "Utopia by Design" theme in 2016. Supported by Alserkal Avenue.
Illustration by Fabio Buonocore