The first Sharjah Architecture Triennial appears to be something of a misnomer. One may compare it to the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2018, where the Holy See of the Vatican invited star architects of the West to interpret the ideal chapel. It resulted in the building of 10 chapels in the woods of San Giorgio Maggiore island, all designed by acclaimed architects. In Sharjah, one would be hard pressed to find a built structure or a star architect. Rather, the event has a pre-Lapsarian air in which building, or a concern with contemporary material, is curiously absent but the consequences of urbanisation — digging, mining, blasting, dredging, polluting, crowding — are everywhere. Adrian Lahoud, the curator, has so placed the triennial that it opens up a cornucopia of riches as well as a quagmire of contradictions.
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