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Concrete – OMA’s first completed project in the UAE – opens at Alserkal Avenue

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Concrete opens at Alserkal Avenue

Concrete opens  at Alserkal Avenue as its new space in the Avenue and the first project to be completed in the United Arab Emirates by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), founded by Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Rem Koolhaas. The limitless space will transform the cultural ecosystem and possibilities in the UAE.

Concrete has opened with Syria: Into the Light, the Atassi Foundation’s largest-ever exhibition and its first in the MENA region since its formation last year. The exhibition will be on view until 3 April 2017.

Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, patron and founder of Alserkal Avenue, said, “Over the last decade, Alserkal Avenue has grown and evolved organically with the arts and culture scene of the United Arab Emirates. The introduction of Concrete marks a new milestone in the cultural advancement of the region.” 

At the crossroads of modular design and modern architecture, Concrete is a collection of warehouses that have been conserved and re-imagined, offering the dimensions and volume of industrial spaces for a variety of projects. Marking the first instance of such flexible, adaptive architecture in the United Arab Emirates, Concrete is set to have a lasting impact on the cultural sector in the region.

At the press conference inaugurating Concrete, Rem Koolhaas, founder of OMA, stated, “Dubai is one of the cities that has had a deep impact on our work, and I am very happy that this particular building is our first effort here. In Concrete, we are not introducing a new shape but instead were able to infiltrate an existing building with an arts institution. This building is totally produced in Dubai; it is not a foreign ideal, and that I think is significant.”

Concrete was led by Iyad Alsaka, OMA partner, who said, “The Gulf is an important region for OMA, and we are happy to have been able to collaborate with an organisation like Alserkal Avenue, whose vision is so similar to our own. With this project we wanted to keep the interior as neutral and flexible as possible, while transforming the existing exterior so that it would stand out from the surrounding buildings.”

Concrete will now provide a space for international arts and culture events to travel to Dubai. Alserkal Avenue’s collaboration with OMA advances the organisation’s mission to promote progress in the arts and architecture, with Concrete as a leading reference point for urban design in the region and beyond. Confirming Alserkal Avenue’s commitment to locally based talent and expanding the architectural conversation in the region, the interior design and engineering was completed by Dubai-based companies.

Vilma Jurkute, director of Alserkal Avenue, said, “The OMA team has brought their unique aesthetic and thoughtful approach to urban architecture to the Avenue, and in doing so, they have created a space that has started a dialogue for architectural evolution in the UAE.”

With multiple configurations, the 600-square-metre Concrete has double-height ceilings, movable walls and a translucent facade that can be positioned to create seamless indoor-outdoor experiences. Concrete is a responsive, multi-disciplinary space that was created with the capacity to host large-scale art exhibitions, symposia, conferences, conceptual fashion presentations, film screenings and corporate events, as well as private functions.

Concrete has opened with Syria: Into the Light, the Atassi Foundation’s largest-ever exhibition and its first in the MENA region since its formation last year. The exhibition will be on view until 3 April 2017.