26 November 2014
This year is the first year for the United Arab Emirates to have a permanent pavilion at the International Architecture Biennale. We are very happy and proud to be given the opportunity to be able to represent our country and shed some light on issues and questions people have had revolving our culture and lifestyle. We have learned a lot through this experience and hope that we, in return, have contributed in building a strong relationship between people and our pavilion.
We have encountered people from all over the world who aren’t only architects but have very diverse backgrounds such as theater, journalism and photography and so on. Being in such a multicultural environment has proved to be such an enriching experience in terms of cultural exchange. What started out as a few simple questions about architecture had changed into vivid descriptions of the lives of our grandparents back in the day and how that has changed through modernity.
The interesting thing is that, although the people we met and us come from completely different backgrounds, we found ourselves finding many similarities when it came to values and our basic instinct as human beings to want to be a part of something bigger.
We realized quite quickly that the prominent questions that were asked revolved around our opinions as individuals; people were very curious to ask about our lives and how we, as local Emiratis, have adapted our culture to such a fast-paced and ever-growing society. They have also asked regarding the orientation of the changing architecture and how it affected the social standards of our lifestyles.
Most of the visitors complimented the concept of the drawer being pulled; saying that they felt it created a bond between them and our history. The disadvantageous element of the design was how the drawers became rigid over time where visitors lacked the strength to pull them fully and absorb. Regardless they were intrigued by the atmosphere inspired by the palm trees’ screening of the Arish. They also told us it was very helpful to see the designed timeline to put into perspective how the UAE developed (in terms of a global scheme) throughout the years whilst listing the architectural events in the Western world as well. The comparison between the development of our country and the rest of the world allowed the visitors to understand how much meticulous planning was put into creating UAE today and the vision of our beloved Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may his soul rest in peace.
However, with that being said, it is very important to understand that we were ambassadors of our country and it is our responsibility to embody our values through both our words and actions. This sense of responsibility has pushed us to be the best version of ourselves both as professionals, that are able to communicate and convey our ideas clearly, as well as individuals that are able to openly speak their minds and voice out their opinions. Even though we are away from home, we feel that this experience had a very large impact when it came to our goals and what we wanted to do once we went back. It has allowed us to network, meet new people, and subsequently opened doors to possible future projects that we can be a part of.