Architectural academic and practitioner Amin Alsaden (right) has been appointed the director of the Sharjah Architecture Triennial, the first major platform dedicated to architecture and urbanism in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.
As well as contributing to the Triennial’s growth, sustainability, and its long-term mission generally, Alsaden (right) will oversee all programming and related activities, notably working with the Triennial’s selected curators to realise their projects in Sharjah. He will also look after outreach and external relations with local, regional, and international partners. And in his spare time he’ll launch the research programme that is one of the Triennial’s core initiatives.
He looks like a good appointment. He has postgrad degrees in architecture and architectural history from Princeton and Harvard, he has taught at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and the College of Architecture, Art and Design at AUS, and his professional experience includes stints the influential OMA and MVRDV in the Netherlands, and Woods Bagot in the United Arab Emirates.
His particular interests include regionalism and Orientalism in architecture, and governance and space in conflict zones. “My work has explored the global exchanges of ideas and expertise across cultural boundaries and rethinking previously imposed divisions, between the Muslim/Arab contexts and other geographies, centres and peripheries, and traditional and modern arts.
“Through my research on Baghdad [his dissertation focussed on the role of the city as a locus of architectural and artistic encounters after WWII] I discovered the powerful mediatory role this region can play. One of our ambitions for the Triennial is that it serves as a critical forum for similar re-evaluations, and for reflection on the complex and at times dissonant dimensions of our experience of the built environment today.”
That sounds meaty and promising. He also has a “special relationship” with Sharjah – his family moved there when he was young, and AUS was his BA school. He now says “I am thrilled to be back, and I look forward to making a strong contribution to the city that launched my career.”
The Triennial has already named its first curator (Adrian Lahoud) and his theme – ‘Rights of Future Generations’. The Sharjah Architecture Triennial opens in November 2019 and runs for three months.