Brutalist flying saucer reopens in Sharjah
One of the country’s architecture landmarks, the Flying Saucer, has been given a new lease of life, via a renovation courtesy of the Sharjah Art Foundation and architect Mona El Mousfy of SpaceContinuum Design Studio
The ‘Flying Saucer’ is one of Sharjah’s key Brutalist architecture landmarks. The round, striking building, which was originally constructed in the 1970s and opened in 1978 as a mixed use structure, was acquired by the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) in 2012. Then in a state of disrepair, it has now been given a new lease of life through a thorough renovation by the foundation and architect Mona El Mousfy of SpaceContinuum Design Studio.
While the structure was originally conceived to house a one-stop-shop restaurant, newsstand, tobacconist, gift shop, patisserie and delicatessen, after the restoration and redesign, the Flying Saucer is reimagined as an art and community space with a café, library, courtyard and activity spaces.
Flagging up the region’s rich architectural history and weaving through to today via a contemporary culture programme, while connecting and engaging with the local community, the project will continue to be used as a SAF venue (it has been used as such since 2015).
‘The Flying Saucer has been beloved by generations of Sharjah residents since its opening in the late 1970s. It was important that we not only preserve its characteristic structure but also restore it for our community as a space for convening, learning and creating,’ says HoorAl Qasimi, SAF director. ‘While preserving the original building’s distinctive qualities, the project also adds a new layer of vibrancy to the space and allows us to better engage with communities across the emirate—an ethos that guides all of the Foundation’s architectural and historic preservation work.’
The Flying Saucer has just reopened to the public with a new site-specific, multi-media installation, ‘Nowhere Less Now 3 [flying saucer]’ , by Lindsay Seers and Keith Sargent, who responded with their art ‘to the building’s space-age architecture’. §