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51-1 Arquitectos completes renovation of former Kalba Ice Factory for Sharjah Biennial 15

United Arab Emirates Architecture News - Feb 24, 2023 - 15:58   1302 views

51-1 Arquitectos completes renovation of former Kalba Ice Factory for Sharjah Biennial 15

Peru-based architecture practice 51-1 Arquitectos has transformed the former Kalba Ice Factory, an abandoned 20,000-square-meter industrial site, into art spaces with social amenities, for the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) on the Emirate’s east coast, in Kalba, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

Named Kalba Ice Factory, the building is located in the town of Kalba on the Gulf of Oman and it was used as a fish feed mill and ice storage facility with a distinctive saw-tooth shaped roof.

The building was acquired by the Sharjah Art Foundation in 2015 and has since served as the site for SAF interventions including Mohau Modisakeng’s Sharjah Biennial 14 performance Land of Zanj (2019) and Adrián Villar Rojas's Planetarium for Sharjah Biennial 12 (2015)

The building was opened for 15th edition of the Sharjah Biennial on 8 February as a venue of the Biennial. Sharjah Biennial 15 is running from 7 February to 11 June 2023. Sharjah Biennial 15 (SB15) is curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation.

The renovation required to design a minimal level of intervention to the factory space to preserve its powerful spatial qualities as an industrial ruin. The renovation process also envisioned expanding the building with studios and living spaces for visiting artists and guests.

The renovation features an expansive artist workshop, a shaded walkway along the shoreline, an edible garden and a restaurant on an elevated deck with views of the surrounding mangrove forest.

The featuring works in the Biennial consists of Rebecca Belmore, Ibrahim Mahama, Pak Khawateen Painting Club, Doris Salcedo, Abdulrahim Salem, Kahurangiariki Smith, Inuuteq Storch and Nari Ward.

The stark industrial space created by the factory building’s high windows and light-filled expanses is suitable for large-scale installations and performances, further complimented by the natural beauty of its surroundings. 

Adjacent to Kalba creek and the Al Qurm mangrove swamp reserve, Kalba Ice Factory is located in an extremely biodiverse area of the Emirate that is home to species including the endangered Arabian-Collard Kingfisher, the Blandford’s lizard and endangered hawksbill and green turtles which nest on the nearby beach. 

With views of the Sea of Oman to the East, the Kalba mangroves to the South and the Hajar mountains in the West, this new cultural venue on Sharjah’s East Coast—approximately 120 kilometers from SAF’s primary venues in downtown Sharjah—expands on the Foundation’s longstanding commitment to preserving culturally significant sites across the Emirate and reaches out to new audiences beyond the city center.

Overlooking the creek with stunning views of the Al Qurm reserve, an adjoining structure modelling the profile of the Ice Factory will house six apartments and public social spaces. In front, an existing structure is being repurposed into a 200 square meter workshop space for artists and directly behind the factory will be a restaurant with views of the shoreline and mangroves. 

51-1 Arquitectos completes renovation of former Kalba Ice Factory for Sharjah Biennial 15

Kalba Ice Factory, 2023. Image courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation. Image © Danko Stjepanovic

Separating the restaurant from the nearby road is an edible garden that will feature a series of spaces for dining, cooking, playing and prayer. An elevated deck connects the parking spaces to the garden, the restaurant and the factory. Neem trees will line the entire route, connecting the various elements of the renovation.

"Kalba is a critically important part of Sharjah’s cultural and ecological makeup, and we are enlivening this abandoned site by turning it into a multifaceted gathering space for residents of this region as well as visitors from across the Emirate and around the world,” said Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation. 

"By preserving the industrial rawness of the factory space and protecting the unique ecosystem of the surrounding landscape, this project extends the Foundation’s critical work preserving sites of historic, cultural and environmental significance for future generations through adaptive reuse, and engaging communities across the Emirate with contemporary arts programming," Hoor Al Qasimi added.

51-1 is an architecture studio from the Supersudaca collective based in Lima, Peru led by architects Cesar Becerra, Fernando Puente Arnao and Manuel de Rivero.

Top image: Kalba Ice Factory, 2023. Image courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation. Image © Motaz Mawid.

> via Sharjah Art Foundation

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