Masdar professor to curate the UAE National Pavilion at 2018 Venice architecture Biennale

An assistant professor at the Masdar Institute, Dr Khaled Alawadi's research focuses on sustainable urban design

Dr. Khaled Alawadi, curator of National Pavilion UAE - la Biennale di Venezia 2018. Courtesy National Pavilion UAE - la Biennale di Venezia
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The National Pavilion, United Arab Emirates has appointed Dr Khaled Alawadi to curate the UAE’s exhibition at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition at next year's Venice Biennale.

An assistant professor of sustainable urbanism at the Masdar Institute, Dr Alawadi's research has focused on sustainable urban design.

His recent papers have included What happened to Abu Dhabi’s urbanism? The question of regional integration, an investigation of the history of national housing in the emirate and an analysis of the lessons this might offer for neighbourhood development in the future.

Dr Alawadi also contributed research toward Transformations: the Emirati National House, the UAE's national pavilion at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, which was curated by the then UAE-based architect and urbanist Yasser Elsheshtawy in 2016.

Transformations: the Emirati National House followed the UAE's first participation at the Venice architecture biennale, the Michele Bambling-curated Lest We Forget: Structures of Memory in the United Arab Emirates, which adopted an archival approach to the history of the UAE's modern architecture of the 1970s-1980s.

A trained architect, planner and urban designer, Dr Alawadi holds a PhD in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin.

“Throughout my research, my aim is to develop the UAE’s reputation as a knowledge hub and engine for the transformation of cities and sustainable urbanization. The UAE has a unique architectural heritage which sits in dialogue with rapid urbanisation and development, and offers a rich environment for thinking about the future of architecture and urban planning,” he said in a statement.

“The Venice Biennale’s architecture exhibition is one of the world’s foremost platforms in the field, and I am honoured to have been selected as the curator for 2018.”

Curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, founders of Dublin-based Grafton Architects, the theme of next year's International Architecture Exhibition is "Freespace" and will take place from May 26 until November 25, 2018.

Speaking in June at the Biennale's headquarters at Ca’ Giustinian in Venice, Farrell and McNamara promised that the 2018 Biennale will celebrate "generosity and thoughtfulness," and "a desire to engage."

"We believe that everyone has the right to benefit from architecture. The role of architecture is to give shelter to our bodies, but also to lift our spirits. A beautiful wall forming a street edge gives pleasure to the passer-by, even if they never go inside," they said.

"We are interested in going beyond the visual. We are interested in the choreography of daily life. We see the earth as client [and] architecture as the manipulation of the resources of the earth."

In their closing statement, the architects quoted an Ancient Greek proverb: a society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.

Applications for the 2018 Venice Internship, which offers Emiratis and long-term residents the opportunity to spend one month in Venice staffing the UAE’s exhibition, are now open.

Visit for more information.


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