Architecture of Culture panel explores construction materials and possibilities

Image Credit: Courtesy AUS

By Salama Al Mahri 

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH – Three professors from the American University of Sharjah’s College of Architecture, Art, and Design offered three different takes on construction materials during a Jan. 25 panel.

Organized by the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, whose member Shahad Al Hammadi moderated the session, the Architecture of Culture panel was part of an event highlighting research and discussing a recent publication on craft and culture.

The panel discussed the integration of heritage, technology and sustainability to create new construction-based recipes. Al Hammadi began the session by presenting a video of the exhibition Echoes of Alchemy, which explores cultural dialogue between East and West, craftmanship and contemporary aesthetics.

CAAD Prof. George Katodrytis, the first panelist, said it is crucial to experiment with regional materials when creating buildings. He said that local substances like clay, date fibers, limestone and salt can be repurposed to showcase heritage and create new designs. Al Hammadi added how areesh, a traditional Emirati style home made from palm trunks, can also be used in contemporary architecture.

According to CAAD Prof. Kevin Mitchell, the second panelist, sustainability through recycling relies on a commitment to develop the necessary knowledge and technology to be economically viable. He stated that design has a critical role in identifying material possibilities with in-depth research on properties and production processes. 

The third panelist, CAAD Assoc. Prof. Ammar Kalo, emphasized the significance of three-dimensional printing with various substances like natural materials to create prototypes.