Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto



Wetland Exhibition Research


Public Program




The National Pavilion UAE was awarded the Golden Lion Award for best National Participation at La Biennale Architettura 2021. The Golden Lion award is the Biennale’s top honor.

Curated by Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto, Wetland, the National Pavilion UAE’s tenth exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia, was selected by the Biennale jury for being “a bold experiment that encourages us to think about the relationship between waste and production on a local and global scale, and opens us to new construction possibilities between craft and high-technology”, Kazuyo Sejima, President of this year’s jury said at the ceremony.

Wetland presents a large-scale prototype structure created from an innovative, environmentally friendly cement made of recycled industrial waste brine which could reduce the climate impact of the construction industry.

Created from recycled industrial waste brine, the MgO cement has been hand-cast into organic
shapes recalling the UAE’s traditional coral-built houses, forming a hand-built 7 x 5 meter prototype
structure. The prototype is accompanied by large-scale images created by New York-based Emirati
artist Farah Al Qasimi of the UAE’s UNESCO World Heritage Site-nominated sabkhas (salt flats),
which provided inspiration for the research process.

The prototype is 2.7m tall and 7m x 5m wide on its exterior, creating a walkable interior space the size of an average room, 2.5m x 5m. The structure is formed from up to 3000 modules made of an MgO-based cement designed by the curators, Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto.

The curators worked with specialist teams at the New York University Abu Dhabi’s Amber Lab, the American University of Sharjah’s Department of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences and the University of Tokyo’s Obuchi Lab and Sato Lab to develop the chemical formula for the cement and use advanced digital engineering technology to formulate a viable structure inspired by the concept of “future vernacular” architecture.  For more details about the research team’s contributors please visit here.

The exhibition also includes a 3-minute soundtrack capturing the story of the sabkhas, the desalination process that creates brine and the research journey. An accompanying publication titled The Anatomy of Sabkhas, written by urban researchers Rashid and Ahmed bin Shabib and co-edited by Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto, will also be released, including a supplementary volume by Agha Khan Award – winning architect Marina Tabassum detailing the journey of the curators’ research for the Wetland exhibition.