Within three pavilions, this year’s Abwab hosts designers from Lebanon, the Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia, as supported by Ithra, and India.

Azaz Architects, leading architectural firm based between Riyadh and Madrid, have this year been chosen to create the pavilion representing the Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia. Founded in 2017, Shahad Alazzaz leads operations with what she describes as a “new philosophy”, and leads a varied range of interior and exterior projects for her clients across the Middle East and Europe.

Sa’af, named after the ancient technique of weaving palm fronds, is a research-led project working to safeguard a craft of the Eastern Provinces. Shahad’s research involved extensive travel to the Eastern Provinces, including Al Ahsa, where the craft of weaving has been well preserved. She will be working directly with these craftspeople and particularly women in the Eastern Provinces, to develop innovative textiles and experiment with their application. Conceptually, each textile can be interpreted as a story, whilst interlocking them is the symbolic representation of a people.

The pavilion will make up a giant suspended structure composed of four different types of woven styles, as per the methods used by the craftspeople. These styles mix colour, scale and texture, and the pavilion is designed to maximize interaction with both the inner and outer skins of the textiles. The woven mesh extends to the ground, inviting people to climb up the surface where activity and the movement of people can be seen.

Visitors to the pavilion are invited to wander through the cocoon, and depending on where one stands the surfaces are brought to life, and the scale of the weaves evokes a dynamic game of light and shadow. The project explores the potential of a classic craft in transmitting a unique spatial experience.

The Abwab Pavilions can be seen during Dubai Design Week held from 11-16 November 2019.