Any form of augmentation of the individual intellect would immediately result in the augmentation of the collective one

The Dialogue between ARCHITECTEM and Yasser Elshestawy [Curator UAE National Pavilion for the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale and ARCHITECTEM Advisor] was an organic extension of our aim to activate Academic Architectural discourse within the UAE. The Dialogue took place on 8th October 2016, as part of the Nadi Al Quoz Speaker Series at Alserkal Avenue.

Situated in Dubai’s industrial quarter, the Avenue is a cluster of architect-designed warehouses, bringing together collaborators from diverse artistic disciplines; encouraging open dialogue and sharing of ideas. The Speaker Series invites artists, architects, writers and cultural producers to speak about recent projects, ongoing research and current pursuits. Each talk is followed by a salon style Q&A with the audience and a broader discussion about making things in the UAE.


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The discussion posed, in a brief introduction, the question of what defines an architect and explored “What it means to be an Architect” by way of an overview of the Venice Biennale and the social/cultural issues raised therein. The notion of “Architecture without Architects” was examined through the Poland, Portugal, German, Irish Pavilions, and specifically elaborated through the UAE Pavilion. The content, research and findings from the UAE Pavilion, and its accompanying catalogue, were discussed as a way to understand the role of the UAE National Housing Scheme introduced in the 1970’s as an instrument of activating and remaing a constant feature of the developing urban fabric of the UAE, even through years and many cycles of transformations.

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