Sand is an inherently playful material–just ask any kids building castles at the beach. To create pavilions for a Dubai Design Week exhibition themed “Games: The Element of Play in Culture,” local firm Loci Architecture + Design naturally turned their attention to the material. The challenge became about how to create a modern form that wouldn’t interfere with the works exhibited within.
Loci sought to capture how the sand shifts, moves, and accumulates—characteristics that shape the Middle East’s landscape and speak to its identity. If the symbolism wasn’t a compelling enough reason, it didn’t hurt that sand’s natural abundance in Dubai helped rein in construction costs. Moreover, it’s a natural thermal insulator from the harsh desert heat. The architects decided on transparent polycarbonate walls with internal channels that would be filled with the material.
Here’s how they were fabricated:
Dubbed Abwab—the Arabic word for “doors”—the reposed structures express their true materials and construction. Mies would’ve approved.