Dubai Design Week 2016 : : An Architect’s guide

Dubai Design Week begins on the 24th and will run till the 29th of October 2016. With so much on offer, ARCHITECTEM has compiled a comprhensive guide to navigate the week, specifically highlighting Architecture related events and  features of the programme. 

What is Dubai Design Week ?

Dubai Design Week was established by Art Dubai Group in partnership with Dubai Design District (d3), under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority. Now in its second edition, the annual event encompasses culture, education and entertainment, spanning multiple disciplines of design, from graphic and product design to architecture and industrial design. In the spirit of collaboration and mirroring the city’s global outlook, the week also offers a platform for regional and international designers and brands.

Image courtesy Dubai Design Week

Dubai Design Week includes the following key initiatives:

Abwab – hosting 6 pavilions housed within a green house inspired pavilion cluster

Downtown Design – a quality driven design trade fair

Global Grad Show – showcasing 145 projects from 50 leading global universities

Iconic City exhibition – featuring Cairo NOW! City Incomplete, exploring the culture and design scene of the city,  and

Installations dispersed around the city

The public programme has a strong architectural element featuring a series of promising talks and workshops. Below is our selection


Santiago Calatrava
Image courtesy Dubai Design Week

Spanish neo-futuristic architect Santiago Calatrava, will design the UAE National Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Calatrava will address the audience on Iconic Architecture – and its impact on environmental, economic and sociocultural aspects of urban development. Calatrava is also the architect of Dubai Creek Tower, the landmark observation tower that broke ground earlier this month in Dubai. The tower is posed to be the tallest building in the world, standing in visual proximity of the Burj Khalifa.

25 October | 7 – 8pm at The Atrium, Building 4, Dubai Design District (d3)


Image courtesy Dubai Design Week
Image courtesy Dubai Design Week
 Grounded within the study of landscape and field across Hadid’s larger oeuvre, the panel discussion, organised in association with Zaha Hadid Architects, seeks to engage a conversation around the late architect’s legacy and work within the Arab world. Panelist include: Tariq Khayyat [senior associate at Zaha Hadid Architects], Saleem A. Jalil [Founder Atelier Set] and Nada Taryam [Director of Civil and Architecture Projects at Bee’ah]


25 October | 6 – 7 pm at The Atrium, Building 4, Dubai Design District (d3)


Dubai Design Week
Image courtesy Dubai Design Week

The Qaraweyeen Library was founded in 859.  In 2012, Aziza Chaouni was commissioned by the Moroccan Ministry of Culture to oversee its restoration. Aziza studied civil engineering and architecture at Columbia University and Harvard Graduate School of Design . She has won several design Awards and is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, where she leads the Designing Ecological Tourism Lab (DET). 24 October | 7 – 8pm at The Atrium, Building 4, Dubai Design District (d3)



image courtesy dubai design week
Image courtesy Dubai Design Week

LabLitArch is a cross-disciplinary exploration of Literature and Architecture. Conceived by architect and writer Professor Matteo Pericoli, the workshop examines the presence of  a supporting structure in architectural projects -hierarchies of space and function, intertwining narratives, sequences, surprises and suspensions – elements that have clear parallels with the creative writing process. In the 5 day workshop participants will design and build an architectural model, based on the structure of a literary piece.

24 – 28 October | 5 – 9pm at Room 06, Building 5, Dubai Design District (d3)



Image courtesy Dubai Design Week
Image courtesy Dubai Design Week

Led by Yasser Elsheshtawy, curator of the National Pavilion UAE at Venice Biennale 2016 – this masterclass explores the process of executing an architectural exhibition looking at: theme development; content research; exhibition design. 26 October | 2.30 – 4.30pm Room 06, Building 5, Dubai Design District (d3).

TRANSFORMATIONS: THE EMIRATI NATIONAL HOUSE : Yasser Elsheshtawy and Adina Hempel will be in conversation – the discussion will focus on the recent Venice Biennale exhibition.

26 October | 6 – 7pm at The Atrium, Building 4, Dubai Design District (d3)


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ABWAB, one of the key design initiatives of Dubai Design, features six pavilions namely Algeria, Bahrain, India, Iraq, Palestine and the UAE . Abwab, meaning ‘doors’ in Arabic, acts as a direct portal to the region’s local design talent. Curators and designers for each pavillion generate content under one unifying theme, The Human Senses.

Located within the walkways of d3, Abwab will be housed in a pavilion cluster designed by  UAE-based architectural practice A Hypothetical Office – an intermediate space that weaves between exhibits, extending the dialogue within the exhibits. The cluster will be made from a re-appropriated greenhouse structure to form a ‘housh’ or courtyard, a playful nod to Arab neighborhood nostalgia that is both enclosed and permeable.

24 – 29 October | Dubai Design District (d3)


image courtesy downtown design website
image courtesy downtown design website

A design trade fair bringing together over 100 brands from 25 countries. In its fourth edition, the Fair presents a roster of established and emerging brands across a variety of product categories. For 2016, local architect Tarik Al Zaharna of T.Zed Architects has been commissioned to reimagine the visitor experience around the theme of nature; incorporating natural materials in the design of the common areas. The fair also hosts Design Weeks from around the world;  the initiative, entitled ‘Destinations’, this year brings Addis Ababa, Barcelona, Beirut, Reykjavik and Taiwan Design Weeks to Dubai.

24 – 28 October | Dubai Design District (d3)


Image courtesy Dubai Design Week
Image courtesy Dubai Design Week

The show returns with 145 projects from 50 leading global universities. Brendan McGetrick, the show Curator, is an independent writer, editor, and designer. He was head writer at Rem Koolhaas’s research studio AMO and in 2014, co-curated Fair Enough in the Russian pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, for which he received a jury prize. One of the highlights of the designs showcased at the Global Grad Show is the focus on humanity.  American University of Sharjah’s architecture graduate Dina Samara has designed shelters for extended families at Jerash refugee camp in Jordan with inhabitable roofscapes allowing for shared activities and communal spaces while providing privacy and service spaces.

 24 – 29 October | Building 6, Atrium, Dubai Design District (d3)

ICONIC CITY : Cairo NOW! City Incomplete

Image courtesy Dubai Design Week
Image courtesy Dubai Design Week

Dubai Design Week has selected Cairo as the focus of this year’s Iconic City exhibition. Cairo Now! A City Incomplete captures the Egyptian capital’s current design landscape. Curated by Cairo-based architect, independent researcher and writer Mohamed Elshahed. The theme of incompleteness is a reflection of the city’s status quo: its disjointed transport system, partially restored historic buildings, expansion into the desert with partly realized satellite cities, speculative urbanism where buildings are never fully completed to avoid taxation, and the tendency to leave concrete sticking out of roofs in the hope of adding additional floors in the future.

24 – 29 October | Dubai Design District (d3)



Ascension is an animation designed by Yusuke Murakami + Tangent and screened on the façade of the Burj Khalifa. The animation is a rhythmical journey from the centre of the earth to the surrounding universe. Mapping the Burj designed by Studio Mr. White uses a Projection Mapping technique adapted onto the world’s tallest LED screen, the Burj Khalifa.

24 – 29 October | After sunset – Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai


For more information on the venue visit:

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