House of Palm
Architect Sandra Piesik, Article 25 and Buro Happold bring Middle Eastern construction technique to London
Sited in the grand Royal Geographical Society in central London, architect Sandra Piesik, Article 25 and Buro Happold are exhibiting Arish Palm Leaf construction through sculpture, history and a 1:1 Arish Palm Leaf house.
Yesterday morning I was lucky to see a preview of what is to be on display in RGS’s Exhibition Pavilion for the next six weeks. Architecture students and over 4000 palm leaves had taken over the space to create a hive of activity.
The three-part exhibition highlights the vernacular architecture and palm leaf building technique used by indigenous populations of the United Arab Emirates for over 7000 years. Curated by Sandra Piesik [architect and author of Arish: Palm Leaf Architecture], the exhibition offers UK architects the opportunity to engage with a historic construction method and explore how it can meet contemporary needs of countries facing the impacts of climate change. On Wednesday evening Sandra will present her view on the future of this renewable and locally available building resource.
The exhibition is supported by Article 25 who have over 600 volunteers, undertaken more than 40 projects in 20 countries and have provided shelter and education to an estimated 15,000 people.
Palm leaf buildings demonstrate adaptation techniques of sustainable construction in the extreme climate conditions of the desert. The exhibition raises the issue of contemporary adaptation of crafts and authentic cultural continuity in an increasingly globalised world. Is this a technique which can be incorporated into modern day construction? Or is it just suited to the desert? What can we learn from this technique and how can it influence our designs now?
‘Arish: Palm Leaf Architecture by Sandra Piesik is published by Thames & Hudson, £28.00’
Arish: Palm-Leaf Architecture at the Royal Geographical Society, until 25th May 2012, free admission
Sandra Piesik Lecture: 18th April, 19.00 - free, but must be booked in advance