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OMA opens its first project, Concrete, in Dubai as a flexible arts venue

It is located in Alserkal Avenue, the arts hub

Front exterior of a polycarbonate clad warehouse with two large doors open on either end.
The front exterior features moveable doors.
Photos by Mohamed Somji courtesy Alserkal Avenue

Dutch firm OMA, founded by Rem Koolhaas, has opened its first completed project in the United Arab Emirates. Dubbed “Concrete” and located in Alserkal Avenue, the arts hub in Dubai, the 600-square-meter (6,458 square feet) structure is a flexible venue and public space that will host large-scale exhibitions and events.

Taking a set of four existing warehouses, OMA has wrapped the exterior shell with a concrete spray and introduced four moveable walls that can rotate and slide to create a seamless indoor-outdoor experience. Concrete is the first instance of adaptive architecture in the United Arab Emirates.

Koolhaas provided this statement at the press conference:

Dubai is one of the cities that has had a deep impact on our work, and I am very happy that this particular building is our first effort here. In Concrete, we are not introducing a new shape but instead were able to infiltrate an existing building with an arts institution. This building is totally produced in Dubai; it is not a foreign ideal, and that I think is significant.

Iyad Alsaka, the lead partner on the project, explained the space’s unique facade: “With this project we wanted to keep the interior as neutral and flexible as possible, while transforming the existing exterior so that it would stand out from the surrounding buildings.”

The concrete-sprayed back exterior facade.