Architecture I 16.03.17 I by

Concrete cultural space by OMA boosts Dubai’s arts hub

A marble workshop is the latest warehouse in Dubai’s industrial Al Quoz district to be turned into cultural space, joining a dense cluster of art destinations on Alserkal Avenue.

Concrete opened this week in time for annual event Art Dubai. Dutch practice OMA masterminded its adaptive reuse, keeping the bones of the building while transforming it into a flexible space to host public events, exhibitions, performances and lectures.

Concrete cultural space by OMA on Dubai's Alserkal Avenue
Photograph: Mohamed Somji, courtesy Alserkal Avenue

‘In Concrete, we are not introducing a new shape but instead were able to infiltrate an existing building with an arts institution,’ says OMA’s founding partner Rem Koolhaas. ‘This building is totally produced in Dubai; it is not a foreign ideal, and that I think is significant.’

The hangar-like space is OMA’s first completed project in the UAE, despite a slew of commissions it’s received for the region. It follows a long line of preservation and reuse ventures by the practice, including the transformation of Milanese industrial buildings into the Fondazione Prada.

Concrete cultural space by OMA on Dubai's Alserkal Avenue
Photograph: Mohamed Somji, courtesy Alserkal Avenue

Pivoting and sliding walls allow endless configurations inside the 1,250 sq m structure, which has a translucent polycarbonate façade. Full height doors connect the building to a large central courtyard.

‘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,’ says Iyad Alsaka, OMA’s partner in charge of the venture.

Concrete cultural space by OMA on Dubai's Alserkal Avenue
Photograph: Mohamed Somji, courtesy Alserkal Avenue

Concrete opens with Syria: Into the Light (until 3 April), a collection of art from the embattled nation focusing on the face and the body. It is part of a series of Art Week happenings on Alserkal Avenue – created in 2007 to bolster the region’s burgeoning contemporary art scene – which coincide with Art Dubai.

Read next: New museums opening in 2017

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