Syrian architects Marwa Al-Sabouni and Ghassan Jansiz will bring a unique architectural element to this year’s Brighton Festival by building a temporary community arts venue on Hove seafront in the form of a traditional Arabic arcade.
The Riwaq – the Arabic word for colonnade – will be a semi-open space based at Hove Lawns providing a unique contrast and framing to the coast beyond. The bespoke horseshoe-shaped structure, a staple of Islamic architecture, will span almost 30 metres in diameter and serve as a transitional creative threshold between the surrounding city and the great outdoors.
An eclectic programme of free cultural and community events will take place at The Riwaq for the duration of the Festival, running 7 – 29 May. Local organisations and artists staging artistic takeovers include Best Foot Music & In-House Records, whose work celebrates international musicians and the power of creative rehabilitation; awardwinning learning-disabled arts company Carousel; and Little Green Pig, showcasing young and underrepresented writers in Brighton & Hove. A wider programme of craft, wellbeing and family events, plus live music and dance performances will take place Wednesdays to Sundays – from Iranian storytelling to screen printing workshops to Bhangra dance sessions.
Marwa Al-Sabouni says: “The Riwaq is often figuratively used in Arabic traditions as a referential space for culture and knowledge: the Riwaq of poetry, the Riwaq of culture, and so on. At Brighton Festival, The Riwaq is going to represent this transitional space of exchange. It will not only embrace the wonderful performances and events which will take place on its stage, but also host a wide array of great and exciting activities under its roof. The Riwaq will be buzzing, filled with visitors contributing and transforming it into a beautiful meeting spot on the charming seafront of Hove.”