Thursday, June 30, 2011

@Shubbak : Public Domain Exhibition Participation

Below is a part of our participation in the "Public Domain: Public and Civic Spaces in the Arab World" exhibition. The exhibition is at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Second Floor Gallery, 66 Portland Place, London, from 12 July to 24 September 2011.

On 12 July, with the opening reception of the exhibition, there will be a talk by leading architects, academics and journalists who will share their insights on public and civic spaces in the region and how the use and design of these spaces are changing. Shahira Fahmy will be talking from Egypt, Bernard Khoury from Lebanon among others.

"For centuries, religious festivals have been at the core of defining Egyptian culture and identity. Due to their yearly repetition and need for appropriate space to occur, they have become a crucial player in the composition of the urban fabric. They are mostly linked to a specific city square or mosque due to its symbolic or iconic importance.

The dual relationship that starts to appear between physical, fixed and dominant entity (the square) and a non-physical, temporary and spiritual entity defines a very apparent, yet reoccurring, transformation in the urban fabric. These photos document and identify the temporary appropriation and transformation occurring during Zain el Abdeen religious festival. A temporary collage of colorful tents that house religious cultural activity, folklore and religious singing and dancing, light installations, flags, decorated textiles and even cradles and swings.

While the festival is centered in and around the mosque and its plaza, the appropriation extends to include the whole district and floods onto the neighboring streets to cater for the large amounts of visitors. The street becomes an extension of the mosque plaza. The functions are mixed, facades are replaced by new festival façades of colorful fabrics, public becomes private and private becomes public. Pavements become private bedrooms; pedestrian walkways become shops for residents."

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