First look: Sharjah’s Flying Saucer reopens to the general public as artwork area – in photos

The Flying Saucer as Sharjah Co-operative Society in the 1990s. Courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation

Opening in 1978, Sharjah’s Flying Saucer has lived many lives over a few years – a store, cafe, grocery retailer and quick meals restaurant. On Saturday, it reopened after a two-year renovation as an artwork and group area run by the Sharjah Artwork Basis (SAF).

The constructing’s design is distinctive for its Brutalist influences and strange look in opposition to the backdrop of downtown Sharjah. The round constructing has star-shaped cover that provides it its space-age look, together with a seven-metre-high dome that sits atop a hoop of eight columns. Its panoramic facade is supported by V-shaped pillars.

The Flying Saucer as Sharjah Co-operative Society in the 1990s. Courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation
The Flying Saucer as Sharjah Co-operative Society within the 1990s. Courtesy Sharjah Artwork Basis

SAF acquired the constructing in 2012 when it was nonetheless a hen store and commenced making renovations to revive its unique kind. These included eradicating internal partitions and a false ceiling that had been added in earlier years, additions that obscured the view of the dome from the within.

These modifications, led by Mona El Mousfy of SpaceCotinuum Design Studio, had been additionally made to accommodate the 2015 exhibition 1980-In the present day: Exhibitions within the United Arab Emirates as a part of the UAE Nationwide Pavilion for the 56th Venice Biennale.

The most important renovation undertaking started in 2018. Among the many latest main additions is an underground group artwork area named Launch Pad, constructed beneath the construction and platform.

Launch Pad contains the ‘inexperienced crater’, a sunken round courtyard that allows mild from above, in addition to a restaurant, a public artwork library – the primary of its sort within the emirate – and enclosed pods for use for conferences, workshops and different actions. The world additionally options wall panels that might be used for movie screenings.

The Flying Saucer in the late 1970s. Courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation
The Flying Saucer within the late 1970s. Courtesy Sharjah Artwork Basis

Different adjustments embrace the elimination of an annex construction, constructed in the course of the time that the Flying Saucer was a restaurant. Now, the round construction stands alone, located on an elevated platform that might be used as an outside area for occasions and out of doors installations.

The Flying Saucer itself has change into an exhibition area, reopening with an set up by Lindsay Seers and Keith Sargent titled Nowhere Much less Now 3 [flying saucer]. Metallic silver sheets cling from the dome to accommodate a movie set up, whereas large-scale sculptures resembling reef balls and dolos encircle the area.

Within the coming weeks, SAF has ready a programme of movie screenings, workshops and occasions to be able to carry the group into the area. These embrace calligraphy, pictures, drawing and tile artwork workshops which can be all free and open to the general public, although on-line registration is required.

Repurposing and remodeling outdated architectural websites as group areas is just not a brand new endeavour for SAF. Its director, Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, has led a number of tasks through the years following the identical precept, this contains Al Hamriyah Studios, an artist workshop and exhibition area constructed on the positioning for a former souq in 2017, and Al Mureijah Artwork Areas, modern artwork galleries situated inside a historic space in Sharjah, accomplished in 2013.

“The Flying Saucer has been beloved by generations of Sharjah residents since its opening within the late 1970s. It was vital that we not solely protect its attribute construction but in addition restore it for our group as an area for convening, studying and creating,” mentioned Al Qasimi in a press release. “The undertaking provides a brand new layer of vibrancy to the area and permits us to higher interact with communities throughout the emirate – an ethos that guides all the basis’s architectural and historic preservation work.”

The Flying Saucer as Al Maya Lal’s Supermarket in the 1980s. Courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation
The Flying Saucer as Al Maya Lal’s Grocery store within the 1980s. Courtesy Sharjah Artwork Basis

Up to date: September 26, 2020 04:01 PM

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