Heritage factory renovation to lay new foundations in Sharjah art scene – The National


The National recently reported on a development project that is set to grow Sharjah’s cultural footprint. The project, which utilises an existing structure to preserve the region’s unique architectural heritage, heralds further development for the burgeoning art hub.

Photo from the 2012 March Meeting in Sharjah, sponsored by the Sharjah Art Foundation.

As reported in The National, an “out-of-use” factory situated next to “protected mangrove swamp” in coastal Kalba is set to become a new “creative hub” for the emirate.

Once a facility for producing fish-based fertiliser, this 2,000 square metre space has long stood unused and become a nesting home to a menagerie of birds. But as part of an outreach programme by the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF), under the direction of its president Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, it will soon be revitalised into an arts centre to serve the growing cultural demands of the surrounding community.

‘It will create space for workshops, touring exhibitions and a cafeteria,’ says Mona El-Mousfy, a Lebanese professor of architecture at the American University of Sharjah who heads up a team advising and conceptualising the project before the architecture firm GAJ get to work.

Rather than shelling out for an expensive restoration of the complex, the planners have chosen to include some existing structures in the final design, using them for both special and utilitarian features in the new building.

As noted later in the article, this is not the only building to be reclaimed this year for the benefit of Sharjah’s contemporary art community. The Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF), the region’s most prolific arts organisation, is eyeing up a “network of crumbling houses and ruins that sit behind Souq Al Arsa”. They plan to develop the former residential area into “six exhibition buildings and three open air spaces in time for the next Sharjah Biennial in 2013”. And in January 2011, The National reported on the Beit Al Serkal, a former hospital that was transformed first into a space that housed the SAF art collection and then into a new media and visual art centre.


Related Topics: art spaces, Asia expands, art in Sharjah

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