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HomeNewsAlula's Inaugural Permanent Design Gallery, DESIGN SPACE ALULA, Set to Unveil in February 2024

Alula’s Inaugural Permanent Design Gallery, DESIGN SPACE ALULA, Set to Unveil in February 2024

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February 2024 will mark the opening of Design Space AlUla, a focal point for showcasing AlUla’s wide ranging design initiatives contributing to the vision for AlUla. Located in the AlJadidah Arts District, Design Space AlUla provides exhibition, workshop and archive space, and is designed to foster collaboration among design professionals, students, and design enthusiasts, whilst strengthening AlUla’s legacy across the cultural sphere as a catalyst for creative inspiration and design. It will open with its inaugural exhibition Mawrid: Celebrating Inspired Design.

Through its series of exhibitions, workshops and archive, under the direction of Sara Ghani, who also curated the gallery’s inaugural exhibition, Design Space AlUla aims to engage with emerging and established design professionals, regionally and internationally, to explore design principles and creative design processes through the lens of AlUla’s natural and cultural landscape. The space will be inclusive of all design disciplines from architecture and urban planning, to product and graphic design. It will support and engage with the design community, whilst highlighting the wider role of design in the region’s character, quality of life and wider economy.

Design Space AlUla is a contemporary building made of corten steel, glass and polished concrete. The architecture, designed by Giò Forma Studio, is a homage to the breezeblock used widely across buildings in the surrounding AlJadidah Arts District. Shaped around a plaza, the luminous courtyard design is complemented by the exposed geometrical brickwork, taking the form of an intricate lattice façade, bringing further light and natural ventilation throughout the building.

The inaugural exhibition, Mawrid: Celebrating Inspired Design, will introduce the design thinking process behind 10 recent AlUla-inspired designs across design, architecture and urban planning. It will be the first in an ongoing exhibition programme, launching on 15 February 2024 until 1 June 2024.

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Projects explored in the exhibition include Giò Forma Studio/Black Engineering’s Maraya, a 9,740m² mirror-clad venue that blends with its awe-inspiring surroundings, echoing the natural textures and colours of AlUla; the plans for the renovation of Madrasat Addeera, AlUla’s first arts and design centre, by UK based Hopkins Architects; Roth Architecture’s Azulik Eco Resort which draws inspiration from the stories of wind and erosion, ensuring the project seamlessly integrates with its natural surroundings; SAL Architects’ renovation of the historic Ammar Bin Yasser Mosque, which collaborated closely with the community to ensure a respectful and harmonious transformation; and AlUla’s Cultural Oasis District Masterplan, guided by Prior + Partners in collaboration with Allies and Morrison, each driven by the mission to cherish and protect the cultural and natural landscape that has made AlUla a place where communities, travellers, traders and pilgrims have, for millennia, wanted to live, pass through, rest, and exchange cultural traditions.

Other exhibitors include finalists from the second edition of AlUla Design Award Imane Mellah, Teeb, Sara Kanoo and Shaddah Studio, and representation from the first edition of the AlUla Design Residency. The residency is a five-month programme in AlUla that brings together designers and experts on-site to work across multiple disciplines such as infrastructure development and architectural design, exploring public realm interventions and urban furniture, sustainability and local building materials.  The five design practices engaged in the residency are: bahraini – danish from Bahrain and Denmark, Hall Haus from France, Studio Leo Orta from France, Studio Raw Material from India, and Leen Ajlan from Saudi Arabia.

The exhibition also explores the visual identity for Design Space AlUla created by Clara Sancho Studio and design agency 29Letters from Madrid. The logo draws on a wide range of inspiration from across AlUla, from ancient inscriptions at Jabal Ikmah to the distinctive breezeblocks in AlJadidah and other architectural elements of AlUla’s more recent visual terrain.

In time, these projects will enter the Design Space AlUla archive which will serve as a growing source of design inspiration as well as a living compendium of local design initiatives. The workshop and archive will also host aspiring designers in AlUla’s resident community who want to participate in the creative space.

Sara Ghani, Curator, Design Space AlUla said, “Design Space AlUla commits to celebrating AlUla’s natural history, its cultural heritage, and vernacular materials – inspiring sustainable futures that are rooted in place. Our ambition is to fuel the design economy, provide resources to designers to explore and experiment, and be a place for visitors to research, explore and connect with the processes behind AlUla’s design journey.”

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