Art Jameel, an independent organisation that supports arts, education and heritage in the Middle East and beyond, today announces Bricklab as the winner of its international design competition for Hayy:Cinema, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The first non-commercial picture house to be designed and built since Saudi Arabia announced in 2018 that it was reopening cinemas, Hayy:Cinema is set to be a home for local film community, and a stage for high quality regional and international independent film.
The Jeddah-based design studio’s winning design expanded the role of what a cinema can be: besides a 200-seater main screen, Bricklab’s design incorporates an additional community screening room, audiovisual library, archive viewing rooms and educational space. The expanded picture house was inspired and informed by Bricklab’s extensive research into the history of cinema in the Gulf, and interviews with Saudi and regional actors, directors and producers. Hayy:Cinema is set to open its doors as part of Hayy:Creative Hub in winter 2020.
Art Jameel launched a design competition in February 2019, inviting architects and designers to respond to a brief that foregrounded innovative and creative design; sustainable solutions; and technological excellence. The jury process was completely blind, with each applicant represented only by a number; the esteemed jury included Wael Al Awar, principal and co-founder of ibda design, the architects of Hayy:Creative Hub; Faisal Baltyuor, CEO of the Saudi Film Council (SFC), a government body with a mandate to develop a vibrant film industry in Saudi Arabia; Butheina Kazim, co-founder of Cinema Akil, the first independent picture house in the Gulf, based in Dubai; and Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, partner at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA).
Founded in 2015 by Saudi brothers Abdulrahman and Turki Gazzaz, Bricklab explores the boundaries between artistic practice, material/civic research, and the built environment. Their projects range in scale and include installations, interiors, architecture, and furniture. In 2018, they curated the inaugural Pavilion of Saudi Arabia titled Spaces in Between at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale; curated the first summer edition of 21,39 Jeddah Arts titled, Public/Private; and have exhibited works at the British Museum. Hayy:Cinema is their largest and most ambitious permanent project to date.
Speaking ahead of the announcement, Abdulrahman and Turki Gazzaz said: “We are excited to contribute to this momentous project which will surely reshape the cultural landscape of the city of Jeddah and Saudi as a whole. We highly appreciate the alignment of our comprehensive community-focused vision with that of the team at Art Jameel. We hope to achieve a benchmark project in terms of design excellence which dovetails with outstanding programming.”
The jury also commended the shortlisted proposals by Kuwait/Bahrain-based Civil Architecture and Lebanon-based Karim Nader Studio. Both studios’ proposals were highlighted for their innovative concepts and technological proficiency. The shortlisted proposals, and Bricklab’s winning proposal, were praised for their consideration of the history of cinema in the region and their incorporation of elements designed to encourage the participation of the wider creative community with Hayy:Cinema.
Antonia Carver, Director of Art Jameel, said: “Art Jameel is thrilled to be working alongside other colleagues in Saudi, including - for example - Ithra, and the Red Sea Film Festival, as well as the highly dynamic community of film creatives based in Jeddah and elsewhere, at this exciting moment of rebirth in Saudi cinema. We saw that Saudi was gaining a fleet of outstanding commercial cinemas and asked ourselves – as Art Jameel always does -- how we could best contribute to the sector, and create opportunities for Saudi creatives and their audiences, from the ground up. Hayy:Cinema is the first bespoke home for Saudi and international independent film in the Kingdom; its unique design, thanks to Bricklab, allows for not only film screenings, but also for skills development, education and community engagement.”
Art Jameel regularly engages in new commissions and awards for artists, designers and architects, including the Jameel Prize, now in its tenth year (held in conjunction with the Victoria & Albert Museum in London), and Art Jameel Commissions, a multi-disciplinary anchor programme of the Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai.