• Issue
  • Apr 30, 2024

Up Close: Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti

Installation view of DAARSANDI HILAL and ALESSANDRO PETTI’s Concrete Tent, 2015/23, concrete, steel, cement board, solar-powered LED lights, 3 × 4 × 5 m, in Al Madam village, Sharjah, at the Sharjah Architecture Triennial 02, 2023-24. Photo by Danko Stjepanovic. Courtesy the artists and Sharjah Architecture Triennial.

Midway across the Emirate of Sharjah lies an uninhabited settlement of houses with a mosque known as Al Madam, built in the 1970s to settle the region’s nomadic people in a modern village. Yet the waves of red sand carried by the wind across the desert proved to be unstoppable, and the structures were abandoned. Decades later, the partially submerged town is now the site of a new structure, Concrete Tent (2015/23), designed by Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, who work together as the Decolonizing Architecture Art Research (DAAR) collective. The full-scale replica of a canvas refugee tent, complete with a sloping roof and open flap in the rear, is recreated in a solid-wooden frame and covered in a concrete-like applique. The structure stands like a monument to the millions of lives lost through displacement and in transit, with echoes of those migrants forced into exile due to the climate crisis.