An Oasis of Culture & Design at the El Gouna Film Festival

As the El Gouna Film Festival celebrates the work of filmmakers across the region and the world, we take a look at its stunning venue designed by London-based Studio Seilern Architects.

By Karim Abdullatif

15/10/2021
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El Gouna Film Festival - the red carpet event on the west coast of the Red Sea, where filmmakers are celebrated for their storytelling - has just kicked off its 2021 edition. While CairoScene and ElFasla are busy covering its glamorous movie stars and dazzling dresses, #SceneHome has its eyes on its iconic venue.

Following the spectacular success of its inaugural edition in 2017, Orascom, the developers behind El Gouna, commissioned London-based Studio Seilern Architects to design a home for the festival. It was to be built at the Gouna Conference and Culture Centre, and it would host a wide range of film screenings, musical concerts, award ceremonies, and cultural events.

Seilern drew from the monumental scale of ancient Egyptian buildings and contemporized the Moorish design elements of Middle Eastern architecture.

The project is laid out as a concert hall with 600 seats, set alongside a 2,000-seat conference centre with an open air venue that capitalizes on the location’s pristine weather. Presenting the centre as a cultural oasis in the heart of the resort town, these adjacent spaces are encompassed by colonnades and situated in an artificial lagoon.

Shaping the boundaries of the venue, the sculpturally framed colonnades are openly designed to harness wind circulation and provide shading, and features arched barrel vaults in a modern interpretation of Islamic vaulting.

Oscillating in form, the concert hall’s interior was designed to mimic geologic formations in nearby canyons. Its nature-inspired contours create a visually symphonic atmosphere that is circulated by acoustic diffusers and reflectors to provide wider coverage for the tunes of philharmonic orchestras.

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