“The Beauty of Impermanence: An Architecture of Adaptability” at the Sharjah Architecture Triennial

The Sharjah Architecture Triennial opens its 2023 edition, titled “The Beauty of Impermanence: An Architecture of Adaptability.” Curated by architect Tosin Oshinowo, the event features contributions from 29 architects, designers, and studios representing 25 countries. Their collective endeavour revolves around exploring innovative design solutions inspired by the challenges of scarcity, particularly in the Global South. The Triennial seeks to shed light on the concepts of re-use, re-appropriation, collaboration, and adaptation as pathways to a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable future.

Rendering of wrapped building in Al Madam. Image Courtesy of Herman Hjorth Berge

Established in 2018, the Sharjah Architecture Triennial serves as a platform for architecture and urbanism from West Asia, South Asia, and the African continent, within the context of Sharjah. The projects spread across the city and its surroundings, taking over locations like the old Al Jubail Vegetable Market, the Al Qasimiyah School, and even the neighbouring desert. This edition aims to transform Sharjah into a global hub for architectural discourse, rooted in the city’s history, culture, and tradition.

Tosin Oshinowo, known for her environmentally and socially responsive architectural approaches, draws inspiration from her design philosophy for the event’s theme. The participants emphasise design solutions that draw from indigenous knowledge, utilise local materials, and explore the resilience and adaptability of communities worldwide.

Projects are categorised into three key themes:

  1. Renewed Contextual: Addressing challenges like climate change and resource scarcity, projects highlight the versatility of natural materials as a building resource. For instance, “ETA’DAN” by Hive Earth is an interactive installation promoting sustainability through the use of rammed earth and agro-waste.
  2. Extraction Politics: Participants document and address the extractive processes that often underlie design. For example, Formafantasma’s ongoing project, “Cambio,” investigates the environmental impacts of the wood industry’s colonial origins.
  3. Intangible Bodies: Projects explore the integration of natural landscape systems and cultural narratives into urban frameworks. The “Play You Are in Sharjah” project by 51-1 Arquitectos transforms the old Al Jubail Vegetable Market into a communal space with adaptable furniture based on the sun’s position.
Collab – Henry Glogau & Aleksander Kongshaug, Render of Resource Autonomy

These diverse projects not only reflect the impermanence of our world but also address critical issues such as resource scarcity, waste culture, and extractive practices. The Triennial aims to ignite conversations about how architecture can adapt, renew, and create a more sustainable future. With participation from renowned architects, designers, and studios from around the globe, the event promises to be a rich tapestry of innovative ideas and solutions for our changing world.

Hunnarshala Campus, Bhuj. Image Courtesy of Andreas Deffner

About Tosin Oshinowo

SAT02 Curator Tosin Oshinowo, a Nigerian architect and designer based in Lagos, is renowned for her work in socially responsive architecture, design, and urbanism. She founded Oshinowo Studio (formerly cmDesign Atelier) in 2013 and has been involved in various civic, commercial, and residential projects across Nigeria. Notable projects include collaborating with the United Nations Development Programme to create a new community in northern Nigeria for Boko Haram-displaced villagers and designing the Maryland Mall in Lagos. Oshinowo’s designs reflect a contemporary perspective on African design, innovation, and afro-minimalism. She is a registered architect in Nigeria, a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and holds degrees from Kingston University, University College London, the Architecture Association London, and IE University, Madrid. She also has professional experience with firms like Skidmore Owings & Merrill and the Office of Metropolitan Architecture.

Location: The Sharjah Architecture Triennal

Dates: 11 November 2023 – 10 March 2024

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