The UAE’s National Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – the Biennale Architettura 2020 in Venice – will present an experimental solution that showcases the use of salts and mineral compounds from the nation’s Sabkha – or salt flats – for the development of renewable and eco-friendly construction material.
The exhibition, titled “Wetland”, will be curated by Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto, the principal architects of Dubai-based architecture and planning firm waiwai design, which was formerly known as Ibda Design.
The curators will experiment and research the possibility of creating an environment-friendly technological equivalent of Portland cement from the crystalised salt and minerals found in the UAE’s salt flats.
“The cement industry accounts for 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions in its production of concrete, which is the world’s second most highly-consumed material. So, developing an alternative construction material without this high environmental impact is vital to shaping a sustainable future,” Al Awar and Teramoto said.
The curators believe that Sabkha is among the UAE’s richest geological features, and its mineral makeup has the potential to create a renewable, natural building material that is equivalent in scale, cost, and strength to Portland cement.
The 2020 Biennale is being curated by Lebanese architect, Hisham Sarkis, under the theme, “How Will We Live Together?” and encourages curators to consider how architecture can address global challenges through coordinated action.
In partnership with Alserkal Avenue, the 2020 curators occupied the space of Warehouse 47 at Alserkal Avenue, displaying samples of Sabkha, images and some of their experiments in preparation for the 2020 exhibition, according to the state-run news agency, Wam.
The National Pavilion UAE is commissioned by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, with a permanent pavilion at the Venice Biennale’s Arsenale – Sale d’Armi.