Reading Abeer Seikaly’s Meeting Points

Front view of the suspended self-structuring tapestry at the Amman Design Week’s Ras Al Ain Hangar Exhibition, 2019. Photography: © Edmund Sumner, 2019

Meeting points is a structure and installation presented by the architect and think Abeer Seikaly at the Amman Design Week in 2019. The installation from the 2019 exhibition includes what Seikaly calls a “self-structuring tapestry” consisting of a lattice structure and a geometric hand-knit pattern. The tapestry is made of pre-stressed wood panels with steel joints, jute yarn and goat hair.

Referencing beit al-shaar (the Bedouin tent; literally “house of hair”), Seikaly tries to recenter structures that have been marginalized as “architectures without architects.” Traditionally it was women who were the creators of the Bedouin in a labor intensive process that would have included collecting the goat hair, creating yarn, weaving and then erecting the structure. The project utilizes this knowledge held by women and indeed is a result of a collaborative project with Bedouin women across the Kingdom of Jordan.

Photography: © Tanya Marar, 2019

I decided to focus on Seikaly’s project because it offers an opportunity for architecture that is directly connected to the form of weaving and fabric and centers invisible architects who are the main builders of most human shelters. In addition, it recontextualizes women’s work as an art form that developed over centuries of expertise and that can still be developed today in the context of modern architecture.

These readings will examine the statement of the project as attempting to rethink the different relationships inherent to the work of an architect/designer (material-structure, nature-designed, designer-community) and the presentation of the project. Although the exhibition in 2019 included only the architectural form, this review will focus not only on the exhibition installation but also on a wider set of materials presented by the architect on the project page on her website, including video and photographic images.

Abeer Seikaly is a Palestinian-Jordanian interdisciplinary designer and architect. In her work she tries to reimagine architecture as a social technology that “has the power to redefine how we engage with and within space.” She is the co-founder of Amman Design Week and ālmamar.

Technical drawings of the sculpture.

this student blog is part of the critical terms in modern architecture course requirements at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago