DAAR Presents “Concrete Tent” at Sharjah Architecture Triennial 2023
The Sharjah Triennial commenced on November 11th, 2023, with the theme of The Beauty of Impermanence: An Architecture of Adaptability. At the center of the abandoned 1970s “Al Madam,” in the desert east of Sharjah, the “Concrete Tent” stands. Created by DAAR, an experimental Palestinian and Swedish Studio, the tent combines elements of a mobile tent and a concrete house. Overall, the tent explores the notion of “permanent temporariness.”
The idea of “permanent temporariness” refers to a condition of displacement brought about by changes in the environment, politics, and economy, which frequently prevents people from really experiencing the present. According to DAAR’s philosophy, many people live in a suspended state of being, whether preoccupied with an idealized past or nostalgic present. To that, the “Concrete Tent” stands as an experimental reimagination. While preserving the space, it redefines temporal built environments.
Interestingly, the “Al Madam” ghost town, where the tent is situated, was intended to settle and modernize a nomadic people. Founded in the 1970s, this initiative was created for people who were thought to be in opposition to the creation of a new nation-state. Today, these buildings are abandoned and reclaimed by the desert sands.
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DAAR’s concrete tent in Al Madam Ghost Town is an experimental preservation project, encasing modernist buildings with yuta fabric, a traditional tent material. Here, the goal of architectural preservation is not permanence itself but rather repurposing this area as a symbol of the legacy of “permanent temporariness.” In addition to the remnants of modernist ruin, the yuta fabric reflects the modern migrant communities’ experience of constant impermanence and calls to mind past wandering lives. As it will collapse due to the advancing dunes, the structure symbolizes a moving representation of “the inherent beauty in fleeting things.”
During the first several days of the Sharjah Architecture Triennial, the concrete tent functioned as a place for communal grief in response to the continuing crisis in Palestine. This tent, which was taken from the Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, Palestine, in 2015, aims to represent the world’s grief with Palestine. Moreover, at the triennial’s inauguration, DAAR founders Sandi and Alessandro led the concrete tent as a space for communal mourning.
The Sharjah Architecture Triennial was curated by Tosin Oshinowo and focuses on the Beaty of Impermanence. With a focus on the global south, the triennial aims to adopt an optimistic approach, revealing an abundance of alternative responses from the global south. In the Triennial, architecture studio Waiwai unveiled “Tashkent: Appropriating Modernism.” Offering an intricate analysis of these buildings, the display begins to curate a narrative about the interplay between modernism and Uzbekistan’s architectural heritage. Also a part of the Triennial, the “3-Minute Corridor” pavilion by WallMakers explores our waste on a global scale, exploring methodologies of material reuse.