The Beauty of Impermanence: Exploring Adaptive Architecture from the Global South at the 2023 Sharjah Architecture Triennial

Arquitectos, Play You Are in Sharjah, 2023. Photo by Danko Stjepanovic. Image Courtesy of Sharjah Architecture Triennial

Inaugurated on November 11, 2023, and running until March 10, 2024, the Sharjah Architecture Triennial serves as a metaphor drawing attention to the design and technological innovations within the built environment, particularly in the global south. The exhibition features contributions from 29 architects and studios spanning 25 countries. Building upon Venice’s global platform for experimentation at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, the 2023 Triennial embarks on a similar journey, creating space for voices and discussions often overlooked in global exhibitions and unveiling elements that have long existed but remained unseen. With a keen awareness of the global south, but also of the global north, and an understanding of the polarities between them, as articulated by curator Tosin Oshinowo, this second edition of the exhibition focuses on “The Beauty of Impermanence: An Architecture of Adaptability.”

Celebrating everything that exists, especially in the global south where places thrive amidst scarcity, the triennial adopts an optimistic approach, drawing lessons from current situations and revealing the value and sophistication of alternative responses that have emerged due to resource constraints. “We’re able to celebrate them. We’re able to learn from them”, adds the curator. The triennial aims to comprehend a more sustainable, accessible, and equitable future—a collective effort to address the challenges of climate change, explore the built environment, and embrace under-celebrated regional traditions. Highlighting solutions that have endured the course of time and others responding to contemporary difficulties, “The Beauty of Impermanence” emphasizes the necessity of nuanced hybridity essential for our urbanized world.

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