AAU Anastas, Alserkal Avenue, Architecture, Bethlehem, Concrete, Design, Dubai Design Week, Installation, Materials, OMA, Palestine, Stone, Stone Matters, While We Wait

AAU Anastas creates stone installation as peaceful protest against separation wall in Palestine

Palestinian architect-duo Elias and Yousef Anastas of AAU Anastas showcased its While We Wait installation in the OMA-designed Concrete building, in Alserkal Avenue during Dubai Design Week.

Photography by Musthafa Aboobacker

The multi-sensory installation, created to instigate a sense of meditation and thought, is inspired and created using stone found in various parts of Palestine. The undulating stacked stones have been digitally designed, robotically fabricated, and later assembled and carved by hand. The end result is a structure that is “self supporting”, appearing as a geometric lattice.

The structure has two gaps: one through which visitors can enter and be enclosed in its surrounding; while the other is open at the top to capture the essence of the sky.

The stones gradually shift in colour, with earthy red tones at the bottom of the structure transitioning into pale limestone towards the sky.

“Upon entering the space, the surrounding gallery can be seen through the lace-like gaps, blurring the relationship between the inside of the installation and any location in which it is situated,” the architects explained.

This transition between interior and exterior is fundamental to the Anastas brothers’ exploration of “stone stereotomy” as part of their ongoing project Stone Matters.

The architects have recently completed a prototype of a  free-standing stone vault in Jericho which will be later used for the construction of el-Atlal residency for artists and writers in the Palestinian city.

The installation also includes a sound and video element to help visitors to envision its eventual location in Bethlehem’s historic Cremisan Valley, located the West Bank and Jerusalem.

“There, it will become the focus of the local community’s non-denominational Friday gatherings, which protest the construction of the separation wall that threatens to segregate people from their lands and isolate the historic monastery from the rest of the valley,” the architects explained.

“In contrast to the wall, the installation will respect the landscape visible from inside and out. While We Wait therefore invites the viewer to reflect upon the situation in the Cremisan Valley as well as notions of self, containment, and the political appropriation of natural space.” 

The installation was first show at the Victoria & Albert Museum during this year’s London Design Festival.

The architects had also curated the Palestine Pavilion during the 2016 Dubai Design Week, presenting a structure made using olive mood, addressing its undervalued status in Bethlehem. Read more about the installation here.