ALEXANDRIA, Egypt — An outdated underground bunker-turned-art house lies in Alexandria on Fouad Road, one of many oldest streets on the earth relationship again to 331 B.C. The road is characterised by many historic buildings with distinctive Greek and Italian architectural kinds that enable guests to journey again in time.
In one of many buildings on the road constructed by Greek architect P. Gripari in 1928, a staircase leads underground to Shelter Artwork House, which was inaugurated in January final 12 months as an area for artists to showcase their creations, maintain music occasions or artwork workshops.
Shaima Ramzi, CEO of Shelter Artwork House, informed Al-Monitor that the house was initially constructed as a multiple-room cellar the place residents would disguise from the airstrikes that may hit town throughout World Struggle II.
Ramzi stated the founders of Shelter Artwork House, Mohamed Abdel Majeed, CEO of Sigma property administration firm, and Karim Mahmoud, head of Sigma’s improvement sector, sought to breathe new life right into a dilapidated basement present in the identical constructing that’s owned by their firm.
The founders needed the basement to be repurposed with a recent design that’s consistent with the historical past of the place. They have been very cautious to maintain the essential traits of the basement as a reminder of the traditional historical past and occasions that happened inside its partitions, used as a hideout throughout World Struggle II.
Sigma, which paid for the restoration of the basement, managed to protect the architectural side of the cellar through the restoration of the columns and partitions, beginning with the vent ducts and escape corridors, in order that guests might get a really feel for what the bomb shelter should have been like for these hiding there. The pure stone of the place and the arches have been maintained.
The doorway to the cellar was designed with the identical magnificence as the principle entrance to the constructing, which is greater than 90 years outdated, to ensure that artists and guests to acknowledge the visible worth of the place.
The cellar had been closed since 1982, till Sigma determined to revive and rehabilitate it.
Malak Adham, a resident of the buildin, informed Al-Monitor that Shelter Artwork House “has grow to be well-known within the metropolis of Alexandria.”
Zubaida Jamal, who was visiting the artwork house, expressed her admiration for the place and informed Al-Monitor that it is sort of a time machine, and whoever enters it feels the life that folks lived throughout World Struggle II, after they hid from the raids. It continues to protect its architectural character with its escape holes and steel staircase.
Ramzi stated that the founders’ objective was to advertise and revive closed heritage areas to create different inventive areas, as they consider within the necessity of creating these locations obtainable to the general public and reuse them for tasks which can be suitable with cinemas, theaters and eating places above floor.
Since its institution in January 2020, Shelter Artwork House has organized 38 completely different cultural occasions with the participation of about 60 female and male artists. A complete of almost 300 artworks have been exhibited on the house and greater than 3,500 individuals have visited.
Along with artwork exhibitions, Shelter Artwork House hosts creative conferences, workshops and cultural occasions in cooperation with native companions who’re equally captivated with enriching the creative scene within the metropolis.
Ramzi famous that Shelter Artwork House sought to supply an area for Alexandrian artists as an alternative of seeing them journey to Cairo to carry their artwork exhibitions or take part in cultural occasions. It additionally sought to supply the Alexandrian public with an area to get pleasure from varied arts.
She stated that Shelter Artwork House cooperated with Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the French Cultural Middle in Alexandria to carry artwork exhibitions, musical workshops and technical lectures.
Ramzi identified that the artwork house generally proposes creative concepts, invitations artists to supply their enter after which holds artwork exhibitions that deliver collectively a set of artworks.
One instance, she famous, is the Replay Royere undertaking that was launched in cooperation with the French Consulate upon the invitation of artists from Alexandria. The undertaking goals at exhibiting the unique website plan of the French Consulate constructing drawn by French designer Jean Royere, then rediscover and simulate the unique design in an modern method.
“We’re serving to artists recreate previous occasions and other people in a recent option to later exhibit them at Shelter Artwork House,” Ramzi added.
Distinguished Egyptian artist Mohamed Abla organized an exhibition at Shelter Artwork House for his works drawn throughout and after graduating from the School of Arts at Alexandria College. The gallery additionally hosted well-known plastics artist Evelyn Ashamallah, and an exhibition for US photographer Barry Everson. It additionally hosted a gathering between Egyptian artist Mohamed Jawhar and French artist Benoit Guillaume to speak concerning the architectural heritage of town of Alexandria and talk about the e book “Historical past of Arab Graphic Design” by Haytham Nawar and Bahia Shehab.
Requested concerning the Alexandrian public’s response, Ramzi stated that the guests welcomed the concept of a creative house in an historical spot, which is a primary of its variety in Alexandria, particularly contemplating that the house supplies help to younger artists by offering a dynamic house for modern performing and visible arts and an interactive program that addresses a large viewers.