Playscape:  I Dreamt of a City Everyone Calls Home

I Dreamt of a City Everyone Calls Home is a large-scale interactive sculptural playground by  Theories of Imagination’s (TOFI) that encourages play and imagination for all ages. Taking design cues from the wider Jaddaf area, it seamlessly combines vernacular architectural patterns, fauna and flora with new imaginative shapes and formats. Through paying homage to the history of Jaddaf as a crossroad of cultures, the playground becomes a celebration of the diverse communities that have shaped Dubai, drawing inspiration from the area’s historical significance as a boatyard and its role in enabling trade and cross-cultural exchange. I Dreamt of City Everyone Calls Home is designed as a whimsical space for collective dreaming. 

Theories of Imagination (TOFI) –  artist-architect Noor Alwan and artist-designer Abdulla Buhijji – are the recipients of the inaugural Jaddaf Playscape Commission in collaboration with Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, part of the Dubai Public Art Initiative.

The Jaddaf Playscape Commission creates a new artist-designed space in Dubai for creative enjoyment, imagination and play for all ages.  The Commission is a major opportunity for UAE-based artists, designers, architects and collectives to propose and create a monumental, interactive and playful public artwork for the Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park, the UAE’s first art-themed park, created and managed through a collaboration between Dubai Holding and Art Jameel. The Commission, devised and curated by Art Jameel, is part of Dubai Culture’s new Dubai Public Art Initiative, a multi-year project aimed at enabling public art installations by UAE-based artists, and fostering creativity and engagement within the community. 

TOFI’s proposal has been selected by an esteemed international jury through an Open Call announced in February 2023 which received nearly 100 applications from artists and designers across the UAE. The inaugural Jaddaf Playscape Commission jury included world-renowned local and international art professionals, architects and curators: Cecilia Alemani, Director and Chief Curator of the Highline NYC and Curator of the 59th Venice Biennale of Art 2022; Wael Awar, Founder and Principal Architect of waiwai, representing the UAE at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2021 and winning the Golden Lion; Amal Khalaf, Projects Curator at the Serpentine Gallery, London, and Director of Cubbit Gallery, London; and Nora Razian, Deputy Director and Head of Exhibitions at Art Jameel.

Theories of Imagination (TOFI) includes artists Noor Alwan and Abdulla Buhijji who run a multidimensional art collaboration with an artistic approach that is speculative, exploratory and whimsical. TOFI develops fantasized works of art and creative spatial perspectives rooted in cultural insights and research. The collective’s work explores topics like the link between the self and the other, individuals and their environments, place belonging, and identity and memories across time. They function at the convergence of technology and art to develop interactive experiences that provide fun ways to perceive the present and future landscapes. Their interventions study and learn from human behavior, presenting tales on design fiction, and probing the near futures of various issues via the lens of art. TOFI has been commissioned by Misk Art Institute, Bahrain International Airport, Bahrain Pavilion for the Dubai Expo 2020 and Riyadh Art for Noor Riyadh festival. As independent artists, Alwan and Buhijji showcased their work in Birmingham, Cairo, Manama, Paris, Riyadh and Sharjah.



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