The Sharjah Art Foundation was established in 2009 to expand the programmes of the Sharjah Biennial. It is a key resource for artists and cultural organizations in the Gulf and a conduit for local, regional and international developments in contemporary art. The foundation's deep commitment to developing and supporting Sharjah's cultural life and heritage is reflected in exhibitions, performances, screenings and educational programmes that take place throughout the year in the city of Sharjah and throughout the Emirate, often housed in historic buildings that have been converted into cultural and community centers. A growing collection reflects the foundation's support for contemporary artists in the creation of new works and recognition of the contribution of modern art pioneers from the region and around the world.
In 2015, the Sharjah Art Foundation purchased an abandoned building with an open concrete structure and a distinctive saw blade roof located in Kalb, on the Gulf of Oman. Known as 'The Ice Factory', the building was used for the production of fish feed and later as a place to store ice. It is located near the Kalba Creek and the Al Qurm mangrove reserve, home to species unique to the area, such as the Arabian- collard Kingfisher, Blandford’s lizard, endangered hawksbill and green turtles, which nest on the nearby beach.
The redevelopment project for this area was designed by studio 51-1 Arquitectos and consists of a series of interventions in the factory, as well as the addition of new structures to transform the entire 20,000 m2 site into a cultural center for Kalba.
In the former factory, the interventions were very respectful: they wanted to preserve the character of industrial archaeology that seems particularly harmonious with the contemporary art installations curated by the Sharjah Art Foundation.
On the blind façade of the factory, facing the stream, an additional volume was built following the same profile. The spaces, adjacent to the factory, that were used as offices have become 6 flats with breathtaking views of the creek and the Al Qurm mangrove reserve. The flats can be used to accommodate artists in residence as well as tourists. This volume also houses an information kiosk, toilets, a snack bar, grandstands and platforms for events, illuminated by Orbit recessed luminaires installed on the walls of the staircase.
A long shaded path was built on the back side of the factory to connect it to the creek banks. Its 13° alignment with the shoreline means that the water slowly reveals itself as you approach the end. This structure houses a restaurant that makes the most of the view of the mangroves. On the ceiling, installed between the wooden strips, are Laser Blade XS pendant with flood optics for general lighting. Along the promenade, Walky luminaires on the wall and on the structure housing the greenery ensure the necessary safety by illuminating the road surface. A beautiful effect of projecting the shadows of the plants in the pots onto the ceiling and walls of the promenade was also desired, by placing some Palco inOut projectors under the leaves and pointing them in such a way that they cast the shadows of the leaves onto the ceiling. On the ceiling, as a decorative element as well as a source of indirect lighting, one can also see the light circles produced by the Earth ground recesses.
Between the restaurant and the street, a vegetable garden has been planted with a series of spaces for outdoor cooking, eating, playing and praying. For prayer and recollection, a specific pavilion was built in which Underscore inOut were predominantly used, positioned on the floor and ceiling for a soft and gentle illumination of the vertical walls, with the integration of some Blade R. All around, a green area illuminated by Palco InOut projectors and iWay bollards was created as a buffer against the recently built shopping center across the street.
To connect the different components of the cultural center, a meandering line of Prosopis Cineraria trees (Ghaf Tree) was planted along the plot extending from both ends of the car park. The Ghaf Tree, the national tree of the United Arab Emirates, also called the Union Tree, is a native evergreen species that can withstand prolonged drought and high salinity by drawing water deep into the sands. To illuminate this area and allow people to enjoy it, lighting was provided by Palco InOut projectors, pole-mounted and bollard iWay.
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