A large-scale prototype structure made of environmentally friendly cement is being showcased as part of the UAE's National Pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale.

Created from recycled, industrial-waste brine derived from the UAE's salt flats, known as 'sabkha', the prototype is being exhibited as part of architects Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto’s Wetland, which looks at how salt compounds in the UAE’s salt flats can be used as renewable building materials.

Towering seven metres high and five metres wide, the showcase houses a walkable interior the size of an average room and is formed from up to 3,000 modules of a magnesium oxide-based cement designed by Al Awar and Teramoto.

The curators worked with specialist teams at NYU Abu Dhabi’s Amber Lab, the American University of Sharjah’s department of biology, chemistry and environmental sciences, and the University of Tokyo’s Obuchi Lab and Sato Lab to develop the chemical formula for the cement.

The exhibition includes a 3-minute soundtrack capturing the story of the 'sabkhas', set against a backdrop of three large photographs taken by artist Farah Al Qasimi, each measuring three metres high and more than four metres wide. Al Qasimi’s photographs show transmission towers standing tall above the textured salt flats, exploring the tension between urbanisation and nature in the UAE’s sabkha.

Wetland will mark the UAE’s 10th participation in the Venice Biennale, set against the context of the UAE’s 50th national anniversary.

The 17th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale will run until November 21, 2021.