UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now


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It is like a diagram of staged scenery and mechanisms of a 'good time'. Any discussion of architecture, urbanism or culture in the Gulf should refer to the region's extreme climate and arid ecology. The ability inherited by the Bedouins to survive at high temperatures with limited resources, something unimaginable to the west, led to techniques and strategies of responding to both climate and landscape.

They developed an ability and intelligence in navigating, settling and adapting to climatic changes. A culture that has the ability to adapt and transform is evident today in the Gulf as well. Such conditions of a mobilized population encouraged a way of living that was dependent on environmental parameters.

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A typology grew out of the early small settlements that remained almost unchanged until the discovery of oil and the emergence of modernity in the Gulf from the s to s. This modern condition was not as pure as its European counterpart. It brought something new: the fusion of western modernity of clarity and transparency with local and oriental mystique of opacity and intensity of light. Reclaiming large and arid areas of desert and turning them into liveable neighbourhoods is an expensive enterprise both in terms of infrastructure and physical transformation.

The combination of fast cities on limited land produced a Manhattan-like effect at the end of the twentieth century: land division, high-rise building planning and curtain walls. Buildings looked identical. Any discourse on environmental performance and innovation did not exist.

UAE and the Gulf : Architecture and Urbanism Now (Architectural Design) [Paperback]

The midday heat during summer in the Gulf is a condition that defines the critical threshold of building inhabitation. This extreme atmospheric temperature of 45 degrees centigrade and 80 per cent humidity outside is in complete contrast with the desired comfort-zone of cool, well serviced and dust free interiors. This extreme threshold may be the single most challenging dilemma of architecture of the region.

All research and practice of energy performative design and technology are tested. The thermal response of any building enclosure in the Gulf can almost alone determine the type of architecture in the region. It is in effect autopoietic. Until recently, westernization was interpreted as the only form of modernization. Contemporary processes can now unleash the potential of the Arab city. Emergent practices of digital and dynamic processes and topological modelling are now capable of incorporating a new language in architecture that can reconnect urbanism to modern life with environmental specificity and culture.

More importantly, it can make context and any idiosyncrasies found in a locality more relevant.

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This is a new form of modernization. Instead of celebrating the uniqueness — and at times the nostalgia — of the architectural object, performative urbanism focuses on how the object material tectonics , the process of production programmatic iterations and local behaviour contextual anomalies can become culturally relevant. The generation of form can now relate to materiality and follows a process in which geometry, coded with material behaviour, becomes responsive to fields of influence, physical forces and environmental dynamics.

It can be local. Parametric modelling, commonly used in the automotive and aerospace industries, has recently been integrated in the process of construction. The capacity to design small repeatable components and apply them to a larger governing surface geometry is one area of parametric modelling that has unlimited design and environmentally sustainable potentials.

This two-level modelling control, of component and overall surface, can allow the exploration of new types of form generation subject to parametric constraint. In terms of a building enclosure designing a parametric system of facades using animated adaptability, iterations and geometric configurations allows modelling to control climatic resistance but also flexibility.

Environmental and ecological considerations can now, for the first time, challenge the mere iconic and define a new performative and material approach reminiscent of the Islamic city that was layered and predominantly undefined. This modelling machine creates a new abstraction and a new hybrid condition. The emphasis of the exploration is on complexity and efficiency. In effect digital processes and technology are shaping the future of cities. After all, we are all nomads inhabiting an image. Transformation is the key operation of contemporary urban culture.

Cities are in constant flux. They require re-structuring and transformation on almost every level. Regardless of the scale and nature of these changes, their impact on its citizens are largely unpredictable and their repercussions unknown.

This climate of uncertainty is intriguing; within it even the smallest tweaks have an impact. This is a new type of urbanism: the manipulation of the urban fabric by inserting structures that trigger change, provoke and demand response. Urban centres in the Gulf are 'cities from zero' with a metropolitan character that is currently 'in the making'.


  • Islamic Liberation Theology: Resisting the Empire.
  • Dynamical systems approach to turbulence;
  • Urban Planning.
  • Sharjah Architecture Triennial.
  • Publisher Description.
  • An Emergent Design Approach to the Gulf.

This requires participants to focus, observe and analyse this unique urbanism. The studio investigates the development of design through explorations of formal and material systems and their association with urban networks and new programmes.

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These design systems and processes are developed through a series of visual and material research, which requires conceptual and technical rigour. The ambition of the project is to invent new formal languages and make proposals engaged with the changing global metropolis.

The studio challenges the current practice of architecture in the region and makes alternative proposals for the city. By adopting contemporary practices, such as modelling in physical and digital form, the work of the studio attempts to go beyond some of the preconceived boundaries of architecture, notably that of the traditional sequence of site, programme and proposal.

Contemporary architectural processes are capable of accommodating transformation, adaptation, and deterioration as well as unpredictable, inconsistent or changeable events and conditions. Contemporary Computer Aided Design CCAD , such as mapping and modelling, may now incorporate advanced techniques of parametric geometry, topological variations, algorithmic design, animation, scripting, expressions and dynamics in order to simulate, predict and generate spatial conditions which would have been impossible to invent using traditional tools. Architectural design is an adaptive process, which is engaged in a continuous transformation.

The sequence of operations will start from a small scale and extend to a larger one. Design is an autonomous process and an incubator of ideas. The sequence of operations in the process follows a logical structure: concept, collages, machine, physical modelling, digital modelling and scripting programme and variations , systems and iteration scale and adaptation to a site , test fabrication, representation architectural drawings such as plans and sections extracted from complex 3D digital models and ultimately construction.

It is a sequence of continuous and rigorous transformation. The studio progresses in a series of stages, with each stage corresponding to an increase in complexity, scope and scale. The quality of both the process and the outcome are equally important. By adopting contemporary practices, such as modelling in physical and digital form, the work of the studio attempts to go beyond some of the preconceived limitations of architecture, notably that of the traditional sequence of site, programme and solution. We like the incomplete, raw, crude, unpolished and endless potentialities of architecture; atmospheric rather than glossy.

The studio is interested in questioning what architecture might be — not what architecture is already understood to be, or how it is already created and practised.

During the process of design, an architectural language becomes gradually embedded, first in the early explorations, and then manifested in drawings, models and animations. This is ultimately brought together with the necessary demands for use, functionality and occupation. At the end of the process all architecture and its formal expression has to be beautiful. The studio employs techniques, logical and intuitive, analogue and digital to represent the project. This generates a system of tectonics and structures, which are spatial and formal.

In recent years the studio projects have developed an architecture that is built up by many different strata of applied scientific knowledge, software-based morphologies, micro-worlds and intelligent environments such a physical forces, gravity, fluid dynamics, particles and temperature. This is a type of performative application rather than aesthetic composition.

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Dynamics, topology and systems then become tools that pertain in a large degree to the control and manipulations of formal strategies. Context should not be reduced only to the facades and heights of surrounding buildings or to random nearby urban activities. Good architects have the ability to exclude rather than include and focus on a singular and significant idea. Contextualizing a project is a complex process of discovering and balancing visible and invisible forces and parameters; it not only about fitting into a surrounding.

A project should give something significant back to the site and the city and, in most cases, it can 'make' the site, if the site has nothing to offer. The studio is organized like an experimental-research effort in the field of architecture rather than a typical academic studio. Within this framework each student has the opportunity for independent research.

UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now
UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now
UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now
UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now
UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now
UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now
UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now
UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now UAE and the Gulf: Architecture and Urbanism Now

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