Concrete at Alserkal Avenue
Herskhazeen has recently visited the newly inaugurated Concrete building at Alserkal Avenue in Al qouz industrial district in Dubai, UAE.
Photos by Dubai based architect and designer Murad El Zagal
Text by: Mohammad Aljabi
Pritzker Award-winner Rem Koolhaas recently opened OMA’s first project in Dubai after a long history of involvement in the region as he stated in his opening presentation concurrently with Design Days Dubai and Art Dubai events. The project program aimed to create a centrally located multidisciplinary venue that would accommodate the outdoor and indoor functions of the space, creating a seamless transition between the two. The indoor space also provides an open plan with movable partitions.
The interior plan can be reconfigured according to the required program by four 8.1m pivoting sliding walls to create diversity depending on the event. The majority of the equipment and lighting elements were integrated into the ceiling leaving the floors and walls empty to insure the fluidity of the space.
The space features full height translucent poly-carbonate operable doors that allow daylight into the space while emitting beautiful lighting to the exterior space after dawn. When these doors are open the interior merges with the outdoor plaza, creating a seamless transition.
The exterior is sprayed with a mixture of black concrete, glass and mirror aggregates that are shot onto the façade creating a rough texture, rendering the building more unique in its context.
The venue During the night
From the architect
Located in Dubai’s Al Qouz industrial area, Alserkal Avenue was founded in 2007 with the aim of promoting cultural initiatives in the region. Since then, it has become Dubai’s most important art hub with twenty-five galleries and art spaces. Concrete addresses the district’s growing need for a centrally located public space which can host a diverse program.
The 1,250 m2 former warehouse provides a multi-purpose space to accommodate public events, exhibitions, performances and lectures, and continues OMA’s work in the preservation and repurposing of existing buildings.
The outdoor spaces during a film screening event.
Rem Koolhaas, OMA’s founding partner: “Dubai is one of the cities that has had a deep impact on our work, and I am very happy that this particular building is our first effort here. In Concrete, we are not introducing a new shape but instead were able to infiltrate an existing building with an arts institution. This building is totally produced in Dubai; it is not a foreign ideal, and that I think is significant.”
Iyad Alsaka, OMA’s partner in charge of the project: “The Gulf is an important region for OMA, and we are happy to have been able to collaborate with an organisation like Alserkal Avenue, whose vision is so similar to our own. With this project we wanted to keep the interior as neutral and flexible as possible, while transforming the existing exterior so that it would stand out from the surrounding buildings.”
This is OMA’s first built project in the United Arab Emirates, and was led by Iyad Alsaka and Kaveh Dabiri. The interior design and engineering was completed by Dubai-based companies.
Concrete has opened with Syria: Into the Light, which will be on view until 3 April 2017.