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A4 Space: Creating a #mindspace

Mary Paulose
Filed on April 25, 2014
A4 Space: Creating a #mindspace

Bringing people together through arts, ideas and books, the A4 Space at Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz, Dubai, strikes the right note

A4 Space: Creating a #mindspace (/assets/oldimages/a43_2504214.jpg)

SPACE FOR EVERYONE: A panoramic view of A4 Space’s interiors

Anyone who has been here long enough would know that Dubai takes its creativity very seriously. From the concerted efforts of annual events like Art Dubai and Design Days to the building of specific areas like Dubai Design District, which will serve as a hub for design, fashion, art and luxury, the city lays claim to its own spaces of creative identity, similar to the globally renowned Meatpacking district of New York and London’s Shoreditch.

A4 Space: Creating a #mindspace (/assets/oldimages/a4_2504214.jpg)In Dubai, we already have a cool and chic arts district in Al Quoz; Alserkal Avenue occupies pride 
of place here with its galleries, studios, and showcase spaces. The 
latest new addition to the district 
is the new A4 Space, which has off-icially opened with plenty of purpose… and a note.

A4 is the only collective space of its kind in the city, covering 6,000 sq feet, with multi-purpose areas dedicated to incubate creative ideas. It offers a dedicated project space, a cinema room, café, concept store and a book collection built by the people, for the people.

As part of its official launch, A4 Space opened the #leaveyournote campaign, which encourages local residents and organisations to don-ate what they think are books of influence, to become a permanent part of the space. Vilma Jurkute, director, Alserkal Avenue, gives us an insight into what we can expect out of Dubai’s latest creative campaign. “A4 Space has cozy cocoon spaces within the wooden two-floor structure, especially commissioned by Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal (the founder patron of Alserkal Avenue) to designer and architect Fadi Sarieddine. These include private workstations for freelancers to work using free WiFi, a cinema room that fits up to 50 people, and a project space that can accommodate multiple activity, creating a dynamic like no other.”

The shelving structure created by designer Sarieddine inspired them to start the #leaveyournote project, and build a book collection available to everyone. “The project has gained international interest, garnering book shipments from New York, Kuala Lumpur and London,” says Jurkute. “It is thrilling to see international interest to help us build a book collection that inspires our arts community to grow.”

Books you choose to donate are not limited to any language or format, but only require a personal note on the title page, explaining why you recommend that book in particular, your name, and the date. In the long term, people who end up borrowing and reading the books at A4 benefit from the pass-it-on movement that enables such donations. You become part of the goodwill that the previous reader leaves behind, with the reason why that book mattered to them.

“The excitement of the audience donating their favourite books to inspire others, strengthens the communal bond and encourages cross collaboration,” says Jurkute.

A4 Space: Creating a #mindspace (/assets/oldimages/a42_2504214.jpg)

Visitors at A4 Space enjoy a break at the Appetite Café

The opening on April 21 saw a mix of artists, writers, designers and people from all sorts of creative backgrounds turning up to explore A4. As expected out of a space that fuels and promotes creativity, A4 is large, airy, with visual elements, such as the large shelved area and dual-level workspaces, both eye-catching yet relaxed enough to blend into the background once you engage in your chosen activity.

It uses natural light during the day, and looks ideal for pop-up art exhibitions, fashion launches, 
photo-shoots and events.

Abdelmonem Alserkal founded the Alserkal Avenue arts district in 2007, putting Dubai’s status high on the UAE and the region’s arts map. The Alserkal family has been presented the Patron of the Arts award — by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai — for their contribution to the arts. “An open space encourages creation, but most importantly, nurtures locally based talent and creates a platform for exchange. The space will incubate new projects and ideas by the creative generation of Dubai. The idea behind the #leaveyournote campaign is to build a collection of texts by the community, for the community,” says Alserkal.

PROGRAMMING THE ARTS

A space like A4 creates a dynamic like no other. “As a space, we have a very clear purpose and a well-curated programming which we believe is essential to the arts district boom — content is what really differentiates A4,” says Jurkute.

A4 will expand its public programming by engaging the public, and welcoming organisations to hold lectures, talks, debates, screenings — and all made available free to the public. Additionally, it will also encourage artists and designers by enabling them to showcase their creations at A4 Space’s STORiEs concept store.

A4 Space: Creating a #mindspace (/assets/oldimages/a41_2504214.jpg)

CREATIVE NICHE: (left) The shelving structure at A4 Space, created by designer Fadi Sarieddine; (right) cocoon spaces offer reading and private work areas, along with free WiFi

“The creative audience has been longing for a platform as A4, to realise their ideas as well as connect with other cultural minds alike,” she adds.

The next step, Jurkute elaborates, will be institutional and homegrown programming dedicated to inspire and help the creative generation of Dubai to realise their ideas. “It will extend across art, fashion, design, film, performing arts, literature and music. All our events are free and open to the public, and can be found on the alserkalavenue.ae website and A4 social media channels.”

“Arts and ideas bring people 
together, and this is what A4 Space in Alserkal Avenue is all about,” says Abdelmonem.

The A4 Space is free and open to the public from Sat-Thu, 10 am to 7 pm.

marypaulose@khaleejtimes.com





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