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Total Arts at the Courtyard is pleased to present 25 Years of Courtyard, an exhibition of a journey from inception, revisiting some of the early days' photos, documents, fragments, and remains of salvaged and repurposed materials found over the last 25 years. 


Courtyard Art & Community centre, located in the Al Qouz area in Dubai, is a privately established and operated community funded, designed and built by the designer architect, photographer and nature enthusiast Dariush Zandi between 1992 to 1998. At the time, the Al Qouz area was just an industrial district with many factories and workshops. But Dariush, as an urban designer and in love with all cultural and artistic fortes, could feel an energy of possibilities. Arriving from Soho artistic neighborhood and enlightened by master artists such as Rothko and Christo, Dariush aimed high and dreamed higher to build a creative zone in the middle of this industrialized location. The higher the dream harder to reach, but if 'pessimism' is not part of one's lexicon, the only impossible is the impossible. Eventually, his dream blossomed, and after the grand opening of the Courtyard on the 21st of March 1998, it significantly and gradually changed the industrial spot into a promising creative zone. Years after, many galleries and art studios relocated or established in or around the new Courtyard community. The physical and spiritual life of the Courtyard organically but consciously transforms into Dubai's art and cultural hub. 


From the architectural perspective, the Courtyard is a composition of different architectural styles inspired by contemporary architecture yet creates a fine line between modernity and tradition. The building comprised two modern-style gate buildings facing two main roads and a courtyard with five buildings with facades on either side —a total of 10 fronts, showcasing the dominating architectural style of the region Khaliji architecture. From a different narration, they function as a permanent museum of elevations as numerous building components, from shipwreck windows, anchors, old dhows railings, and timber decks to thrown-away building materials, are salvaged and homed in the courtyard buildings by the architect. All the objects in the Courtyard somehow hold and breathe history into the representation of today. Some items collected from the houses during the demolition and changing era in the mid-80s by Dubai municipality, for instance, the doors, windows, Mashrabia screens, and glass panels saved from the Bastakia neighborhood. The story of the Courtyard is the story of the city and cultures in an abstract language. The Courtyard has meant to be a diverse place for people, businesses, art, culture and greenery to interact, meet, enjoy, sense, learn and grow in the heart of the middle east. The Courtyard is a dream come true!

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