24 August 2021
The Alserkal Ecology Reader | Three Lectures on Architecture and Landscape in the Gulf
The Alserkal Ecology Reader is a compilation of three lectures held in 2018 and 2019 in relation to Civil Architecture’s summer residency at Alserkal Arts Foundation.
The lectures are centered around architecture's relationship to ecology, landscape and life in the Gulf. Civil Architecture invited interlocutors from the region and abroad to discuss larger trends in the discipline and their connection to the context of Dubai.
“We Have Never Been Urban” invited Pierre Bélanger and Ahmed Makia to discuss the idea of land and our relationship to territory. “Wishful Tropics” featured MILLIØNS and Common Accounts for a discussion on the aspirational qualities of climate control, and forming architectural environments. “Verdant Sculpture” with Luis Callejas and Faysal Tabbarah was a discussion on the nature of objects in the landscape and the blurring of boundaries between the ecological and architectural.
These three lectures form a summary of on-going issues in the
discipline and are intended to be a loose primer for architects
of the Gulf.
We Have Never Been Urban
Civil Architecture is a cultural practice preoccupied with the making of buildings and books about them. The work of Civil asks what it means to produce architecture in a decidedly un-civil time, presenting a new civic character for a global condition. Since its founding by Hamed Bukhamseen and Ali Karimi, the practice has attracted a strong following for their provocative works and their offer of an alternate future for a nascent Middle East.
Pierre Bélanger is a landscape
architect and urban planner with the Landscape Infrastructure
Lab who has published several
books including “Landscape as
Infrastructure”, “Ecologies of Power”,
“Going Live”, “Risk Ecologies”, “Wet Matter”, “Extraction Empire” Collaborative public works
projects include the Zakim Bridge
Underpass Skatepark in Boston
for the Massachusetts Department
of Conservation (US), the Ontario
Food Terminal in Toronto for the Ministry of Agriculture and
Transportation (Canada), YVR
International Airport Expansion
for the Greater Vancouver Airport Authority (Canada), the
Disaster Evacuation Park System
in the Artibonite Valley for the
Department of Civil Protection
(Haiti), and the 2016 Canadian
Pavilion at the 2016 Venice
Architecture Biennale (Italy).
MILLIØNS is a Los Angeles-based experimental design practice, founded by John May and Zeina Koreitem. MILLIØNS conceives of architecture as a speculative medium for exploring the central categories of contemporary life: technology, politics, energy, media, and information. Their approach insists on an expansive parallel project of technical, historical and cultural analysis, which surrounds and informs their work. MILLIØNS’ work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including a commissioned furniture set by Friedman Benda Gallery NYC and Chamber, shows at La Triennale Di Milano, Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, The Architecture + Design Museum of Los Angeles, Jai & Jai Gallery in Los Angeles, the Museum of The City of New York, the MIT Keller Architecture Gallery, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, among others.
Ahmad Makia is a geographer from Dubai. He writes about wet matters, Gulf landscapes, and sex, particularly tormented expressions of masculinity. He also makes books.
Luis Callejas is an associate professor at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. He is an architect, founding partner and former director of Paisajes Emergentes and founder and director of lcla office. Having obtained diverse recognition in multiple public space design competitions, Luis Callejas was awarded with the Architectural League of New York Prize for Young Architects in 2013 and selected as one of the world’s ten best young practices by the Iakov Chernikhov International Foundation in 2010. Callejas was nominated again for the award in 2012 and 2014. In 2016 Callejas was one of the three finalists for the Rolex mentor and protege award.
Common Accounts, founded by Igor Bragado and Miles Gertler at Princeton University in 2015, is a design practice which operates between Madrid, Toronto, and Seoul. Their work Three Ordinary Funerals: Home for the Virtual Afterlife was exhibited at the 2017 Seoul International Biennale on Architecture and Urbanism and Going Fluid: The Cosmetic Protocols of Gangnam at the Third Istanbul Design Biennial in 2016. Bragado and Gertler have lectured in Beijing, Toronto, Istanbul, Dubai, Seoul, Ithaca and New York, and recent work has appeared at the A+D Museum in Los Angeles, in Uncube Magazine, Frame Magazine, Artsy, and Dezeen. They have taught at Cornell University , University of Toronto , University of Waterloo and The Cooper Union, their work has been acquired by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Korea.
Faysal Tabbarah is Associate Dean and Associate Professor at the College of Architecture, Art and Design at the American University of Sharjah, and co-founder of the architecture and design studio Architecture + Other Things (A+OT). Tabbarah’s teaching, research and practice interrogates the relationships between environmental and architectural imaginaries to develop alternative building solutions that are rooted in their surrounding material and cultural environments. Tabbarah works with computational tools, emergent technologies, materials research as well as historical archives.