The invisible stories of Dubai's architecture

10 November 2017Alexandra Chaves
The invisible stories of Dubai's architecture
The invisible stories of Dubai's architecture
The invisible stories of Dubai's architecture

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On the Architectural Biennale

“There is a blossoming now of architectural discourse that there has not been in the last couple of years,” says Sonia Brewin. She is the co-founder of SVENM, a creative consultancy that specialises in art and design.

SVENM are organising Dubai’s first Architectural Biennale in 2018. To give people a preview of the biennale, SVENM is spearheading Arch.Season ’17, a launch event that will feature architectural majlis discussions, behind-the-scenes tours of Concrete in Alserkal Avenue and the Karam Coffee Factory in Al Quoz, a design challenge for students, and much more.

One of SVENM’s goals for the biennale is to encourage organisations to share their architectural and design innovations with the public. “Sharing knowledge about buildings in Dubai is something private entities do in small pockets. They tend to share only with their own audiences,” Brewin explains.

Her goal is to show people how innovations in the region fit into larger movements in contemporary architecture around the world. “When we reach the international context, the media discourse tends to be about the great and shiny successes of the country, rather than the more academic and innovative levels of research and the impact we’re making globally in philosophies of contemporary architecture.”

She provides an example: “We have created the tallest tower in the world. We know that popular part, but how that was done, the feats of engineering that went into it, that is not so broadly disseminated in popular discourse.”

Brewin plans to change that with the upcoming Architectural Biennale, which aims to tell the “invisible stories” of the architecture around us through activations such as behind-the-scenes tours of buildings, talks, and workshops.

“The biennale aims to harness what we call ‘human narrative’,” she says. “How we build cities is not just with buildings, but with human interactions and that’s key.”

Audio interview: Sonia Brewin's architectural highlights 

As part of Arch.Season’17, Sonia Brewin has handpicked 10 architectural and design highlights to experience throughout November. Listen to her explain why she has chosen each one and what to expect from every event. 

Saturday, 11 November
Activity: Architectural Majlis 
@ Lane I, Alserkal Avenue / 7.30-9PM

Sunday, 12 November
Exhibition: Al Sawaber, Tarek Al-Ghoussein 
@ The Third Line, Alserkal Avenue / 10AM - 7PM

Monday, 13 November
Talk: Sir David Adjaye with Sultan Al Qassemi 
@ DXBDW Main Stage, Building 4, D3 / 7-8PM

Tuesday, 14 November
Talk: UAE Modern with Rashad Bukhash 
@ Etihad Museum / 10.45-11AM

Talk: Architecture & Jewelry, Janus Rostock with Paul Paradis 
@ L’école Van Cleef & Arpels, HAI, D3 / 6-8PM

Wednesday, 15 November
Tour: Open House for Arch.Season ’17 at Concrete
@ Concrete, Alserkal Avenue / 11AM - 12PM

Tour: Open House for Arch.Season ’17 at Karim Coffee Factory
@ Karam Coffee Factory, Al Quoz 3 / 4-6PM

Thursday, 16 November
Symposium: Cultural Collaterals With Columbia GSAPP
@ DXBDW Main Stage, Building 4, D3 / 2-7PM

Panel Discussion: Modernising the Traditional with Elias & Yousef Anastas*
@ Concrete, Alserkal Avenue / 6.30-7.30PM

Friday, 24 November
Family Workshop: My City Skyscraper 2020 
@thejamjar, Alserkal Avenue / 2-7PM


*This talk is part of the While We Wait exhibition programme at Concrete.

There is a blossoming now of architectural discourse that there hasn’t been in the last couple of years.