A new creative hub that will bring together and nurture Saudi Arabian artists, playwrights, photographers, filmmakers, entrepreneurs and others, along with the enthusiastic audiences that support them is to be opened in the Spring of 2019 in north of Jeddah.
Art Jameel, an organization that supports heritage, education and the arts, on Monday announced the details of its new 17,000-square-metre development. Called ‘Hayy: Creative Hub’, it is located in north Jeddah with excavation work underway since July 2017. The complex is due to open during Spring 2019.
The building itself is a three-storey dynamic, contemporary development designed by Dubai-based international multidisciplinary architecture, urban and interior design firm, Ibda Design, headed by Wael Al Awar, Founding Partner, and Kenichi Teramoto, Partner.
The design incorporates open internal courtyards surrounded by shaded terraces and walkways – typical of Middle Eastern traditional architecture – maximizing interaction between spaces within the hub, as well as between people inside and outside the building.
‘Hayy’ means ‘neighbourhood’ in Arabic, and it has been conceived to include spaces for 12 partner organizations.
Facilities include exhibition halls, a theatre, artist studios and event spaces.
Programming will include local and international exhibitions of modern and contemporary art; conferences; professional and amateur plays and performances; a digital hub for producers and directors; community markets; and educational events for all ages.
Serving the creative community
“It is altogether a new kind of endeavor not only for Art Jameel, but for the region generally,” said Dubai-based Antonia Carver, Director, Art Jameel, when she spoke to Al Arabiya English.
Carver said the development will house Art Jameel’s art center where there will be exhibitions by artists from the local community and also from the international art scene. “There will also be a theater that will be run by Art Jameel and the rest of the development will be given over to like-minded partners – art and design galleries, comedy clubs, cafes, performance spaces and really bringing together all the different art forms in one space.”
‘Hayy: Creative Hub’ was conceived a few years ago by Art Jameel, revealed Carver. “But now we feel is the right time for it and it is something specifically designed with Jeddah in mind. It has been a program put together by Art Jameel from the very beginning and a lot of the contribution towards the community is directed by Art Jameel itself. So running the theatre and the art center are the kind of anchors of the development and around it comes the partners.”
When asked about the current art scene in Saudi Arabia, Carver said: “Saudi in general, and particularly when looking within the context of Jeddah, there is a very good sense of community, one that is very entrepreneurial.”
“The Art Jameel team that we have there is very much in touch with the creative community in Jeddah”, she said. “We see people working across fashion, theatre, poetry, writing, visual arts, performances…it is a very vibrant community. But audiences sometimes find it hard to track them down, what with lots of people working in locations that are scattered across the city, and with some even working from homes.”
“So we thought this was a chance to bring all those creatives together. Once you have all that creative energy in one place, who knows the kind of collaborations that is likely to take place, that will also enable audiences to access their work,” exclaimed Carver.
“We see this as a community space and also as a place for the audiences and also as a place of education. We are putting together a program in place that will allow schools to design and introduce art programming. So it’s really a place where people can understand the full breadth of the creativity industry and engage with them.”
Local design concept
Wael Al Awar of Ibda Design, speaking to Al Arabiya English, said the idea for the design concept was derived from the local culture, local climate and context. “One of the most important points in the client brief was to create a vibrant community made up of different designers, artists etc.”
Al Awar revealed that the site is located in a residential neighborhood and that it why “the project is kind of introverted, which opens up to the inside, so that we keep our privacy and respect the neighborhood.”
The facades from the outside, he explained, are blank. “But we don’t see them as blank facades, but as blank canvases on which art can be projected. So then the façade itself can become a night canvas and the community can engage with art, without any intrusion on their privacy.”
“The large courtyard itself is from a local design approach – if you look at Al Balad in Jeddah or Bastakiya in Dubai,” he said, referring to the traditional areas of these two cities. “The terraces and walkways also recall Arab architecture. Even though the whole structure looks very contemporary, the combination of courtyard, terraces and walkways – comes from a very local culture. In that sense - a light pearl-white structure of steel and glass – it is very different from what we are used to or what Jeddah has,” said Al Awar.
“We have also taken the climate into huge consideration. The central courtyard has tree cover, which creates shade, and is also surrounded by terraces, which are all shaded from above. And then all the glass - because of the shaded canopy - is also in the shade. So you don’t have direct heat bearing in on the glass.”
The idea, he said is that the courtyard is also “a nice event space which can be used for exhibitions or large events of any kind.”
On schedule for Spring opening
Construction is on schedule with the site excavation having started and considering the materials being used – steel and glass – Al Awar is sure that the Spring 2019 opening date will be met, even though it is a very large project.
Fady Mohammed Jameel, President of Art Jameel, said, “We are delighted to support our home, Saudi Arabia, and its fast-growing cultural scene through the development of ‘Hayy: Creative Hub’, which is set to become a base for Saudi Arabian talent, and help nurture a new generation of creatives, in addition to providing job opportunities and training.”
“‘Hayy: Creative Hub’ reflects Art Jameel and Community Jameel’s commitment to supporting creativity and entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia and beyond, and we look forward to opening the Hub with our partners in this community-wide initiative”, he said.
About Art Jameel
Art Jameel, a not-for-profit organization that supports artists and creative communities, was established in 2003 as part of Community Jameel, the organization set up to continue the Jameel family’s tradition of supporting the community — a tradition started in the 1930s by the late Abdul Latif Jameel, founder of the Abdul Latif Jameel business.
Today, Community Jameel is dedicated to supporting social and economic sustainability, across the Middle East and beyond, through a range of initiatives.