sahel alhiyari's fluted terracotta columns at design doha are an ode to classical antiquity

sahel alhiyari's fluted terracotta columns at design doha are an ode to classical antiquity

eleven: an ode to classical antiquity

 

At the inaugural Design Doha Biennial, an enclosure of eleven fluted terracotta columns nods to both forms of classical antiquity and the essence of modern materiality. Titled Eleven, the imposing installation by Jordanian architect Sahel Alhiyari embodies the energies of these ancient influences through its expressive materiality, compositional elements, and monolithic proportions. Infusing new meaning to this elemental material widely associated with historic construction and earthen crafts, sculptures, and pottery, Eleven sparks reconsiderations of perceptions of historically familiar practices with contemporary production methods.

 

Alhiyari’s exploration of terracotta further showcases its expressive potential in today’s design landscape while addressing concerns about sustainability, craftsmanship, technology, and construction. ‘It’s a completely sustainable material, highly weather-resistant, and has a lot of potential in terms of creating structural elements,’ he shares with designboom.

sahel alhiyari's terracotta columns at design doha are a modern ode to classical antiquity
exhibition view | all images by Edmund Sumner, courtesy of Qatar Museums

 

 

sahel alhiyari embraces the malleability of terracotta

 

Eleven is unveiled as part of the biennial’s headline exhibition, Arab Design Now, curated by Rana Beiruti and on view at M7 in Msheireb, Doha’s bustling creative district. Running from February through to August 2024, the exhibition presents a multidisciplinary survey of design by local and regional creators, together exploring themes such as cultural expression, architectural and material innovation, contemporary crafts, and environmental sensibility.

 

For Sahel Alhiyari, Eleven is an ode to the historic built landscapes of Egypt and Jordan, between which he has spent most of his life. Most notably, the architect embraces terracotta’s versatility, durability, and raw textures as an integral part of the installation’s narrative. Deviating from the classical connotations of the material and its treatment, often using methods of slip-casting for columns, Alhiyari crafts the columns through a process of extrusion, replacing the traditional method of cutting and carving with molding and forming by hand. ‘The beauty of the material itself is that it is malleable and it has its own kind of logic in terms of the forms. It comes out of the mold leading its own impact, and it’s like the spirit of the material is really what determines the final form of the piece,’ he notes.

sahel alhiyari's terracotta columns at design doha are a modern ode to classical antiquity
Sahel Alhiyari presents Eleven at Design Doha Biennial’s Arab Design Now exhibition

 

 

Each of the columns are then shaped from seven vertically-stacked terracotta segments, their surfaces adorned with eighteen sinuous protrusions, or fins, providing both structural stability and lending a three-dimensional depth to their monolithic bodies. These intricate details emerge from the inherent properties of the clay and the extrusion process, the surfaces embracing imperfections, raw textures, and distinct finishes. Moreover, the columns are designed to incorporate reinforcement, paving the way for their eventual use as structural members in a landscape of more eco-conscious construction.

sahel alhiyari's terracotta columns at design doha are a modern ode to classical antiquity
an enclosure of fluted terracotta columns

sahel alhiyari's terracotta columns at design doha are a modern ode to classical antiquity
the installation nods to both forms of classical antiquity and the essence of modern materiality

sahel alhiyari's terracotta columns at design doha are a modern ode to classical antiquity
the columns are crafted through a process of extrusion utilizing a mold

eleven
the materiality addresses concerns about sustainability, craftsmanship, technology, and construction

eleven
the columns can incorporate reinforcement, paving the way for their eventual use as structural members

eleven-terracotta-columns-sahel-alhiyari-design-doha-biennial-designboom-full
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