Friday April 12th, 2024
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Design Space AlUla Presents Timeless Art Amidst Ancient Surroundings

The space opens its proverbial arms to art exhibitors from all around the world, inviting them to showcase their designs in the middle of a historic region.

Hassan Tarek

Design Space AlUla Presents Timeless Art Amidst Ancient Surroundings

In AlUla, there exists a certain kind of natural beauty—one that’s evolved and manifested differently across many thousands of years. Archaeological wonders that span epochs, the majestic tombs of Hegra, rock art etched by ancient hands; every crevice of AlUla breathes the stories of civilizations long past.

In tribute to that history, Design Space AlUla steps in, presenting artwork that is both timeless and ever-evolving. A modern marvel amidst the ancient terrain, it serves as an artistic nucleus, wherein the vibrant strokes of contemporary art find their canvas alongside the echoes of millennia-old narratives.

Built and designed by globally renowned Italian firm Giò Forma, every minute detail is taken into account. The gallery, found in the AlJadidah Art District amidst towering sandstone cliffs and lush oases, strikes a fine balance between architectural prowess and harmonious integration with its natural surroundings.

Its walls, clad in weathered COR-TEN steel, reflect the hues of the nearby sand bluffs, while subtle motifs pay homage to the cinder blocks that line the streets of AlUla's burgeoning art district. Polished concrete provides a cool surface in the desert heat, while sunlight streams through towering glass walls.

Outside the gallery, the exterior shell of the building, crafted from warm wood, features intricate floral lattice patterns, casting kaleidoscopic shades all around.

Helming the curating process from start to finish is Sara Ghani. "Design Space AlUla commits to celebrating AlUla’s natural history, its cultural heritage, and vernacular materials - inspiring sustainable futures that are rooted in place.” Ghani said, adding also: “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.”

In its inaugural showcase this February, Design Space is presenting "Mawrid," an exhibit unveiling 10 contemporary designs inspired by AlUla’s echoing ancient past.

The event will also feature keynote presentations featuring Sabine Marcelis delving into the theme of Pushing Boundaries, and Paul Cocksedge exploring Design and Human Interaction, while Roth Architecture and SAL Architects will ponder the question "Who is this building for?"

Unfurling its red carpet on February 15th and running until June 1st, this global demonstration of all things art, innovation and nature aims to bring projects like Madrasat Addeera, AlUla’s hub for artisan development, as well as Maraya Concert Hall, to the fore.

The visual identity of Design Space AlUla unfolds through a captivating exhibition curated by Clara Sancho Studio and 29Letters, renowned creative forces from Madrid. This immersive experience delves into the heart of the groundbreaking initiative, showcasing its logo and spatial narrative.

Inspired by the very essence of AlUla, the logo itself presents a quaint fusion. Motifs from ancient inscriptions from Jabal Ikmah intertwine with the unique cinderblocks of AlJadidah and other contemporary architectural elements, weaving a rich visual tapestry.

Designed by Atelier Brückner, the exhibition invites visitors on a multi-sensory journey. Through a skillful interweaving of diverse creations from featured designers, the exhibition unveils the vibrant design landscape inspired by AlUla.

Finalists from the AlUla Design Award–Imane Mellah, Teeb, Sara Kanoo, and Shaddah Studio–along with participants from the AlUla Design Residency, will present diverse design perspectives, imbued with a communal commitment to sustainability and cultural preservation.

And so, as Design Space AlUla’s showcase unfolds, it sets off a vibrant exchange between the energies of ancient civilizations, still palpable throughout the space, and the bold strokes of contemporary artistry, eager to pay homage to those that came before them.