There is a lot being said about architecture in Dubai in glossy magazines, glorifying the concept and design of buildings. These are accompanied by incredible 3D renders. Obviously there is more to the field of architecture and construction than what these magazines let on. Factors that make a building appealing and accepted by users go much deeper than an interesting façade. With a brand new format, we pose a set of 10 questions to people working in the field and long term residents of the region. The purpose behind this is to understand the variety of thoughts and opinions of people involved in building as well as using these spaces. It also aims to discern what people find alluring about spaces and the priority given to sustainability. Our first response is fromSanmita Patel.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am an Architect and an Urban Researcher. I am dedicated to raising awareness about Architecture and its impact on development of the city. For this purpose, I launched an informal initiative in Dubai called YAF’D in Sept 2014. YAF’D is a non-profit think & learn tank for enthusiastic architects and non-architects, that are engaged in academic and professional discussions about the architectural progress of contemporary Dubai.
Currently, what according to you is the architectural image of the U.A.E.?
What place do you think vernacular concepts have in architecture in the U.A.E. today?
What are you defining as Vernacular? Because Dubai already has its own definition of Vernacular.
What do you think is the biggest challenge when it comes to designing/building for environmental sustainability in the U.A.E.?
Understanding what “sustainability” really means, beyond LEED and other certifications.
We seem to be in an era of ‘iconic developments’ in the U.A.E. How do you think this trend has influenced the developing skylines of cities in the country?
Dubai’s Iconic Architecture has helped to place the city on the global front. They seem to have hit the nail with it as it has managed to influence Architectural vocabulary in the Middle East region.
What are some of the traditional/cultural aspects of community and urban spaces that are lacking in public spaces like malls?
The malls are redefining what a sense of community means in a city that has a huge imbalance between local and migrant population. The malls so far have been spaces of global/cosmo city aspiration. There are other spaces in the city that offer a sense of community or urban experience for that matter. Do malls need to be representation of local culture? Does that solve the problem of sense of community? Does a Mall mean “Public Space”?
What are your thoughts about the relationship between the past and present in terms of built environment?
Sorry this question is too general, what are your thoughts about the relationship between past and present day London? Longer built environment history helps to answer this better I guess. Dubai in my opinion is still in the making. Relationships between past and present are still in flux and under transformation.
Do you know any buildings that exemplify local building techniques/practices?
What is local? Do you mean traditional/vernacular built space or local construction practices that have been on-going for the past 30 years or so?
What is your idea of sustainable development in the context of the U.A.E.?
Sustainable would mean workable and balanced in terms of social, cultural, economical and environmental aspirations. I think UAE has come a long way towards becoming self-aware. They keep reinventing themselves to meet this Utopian need. Its a tough one to crack for any global city, but I’m optimistic it will happen.
Favorite building/space/area in the U.A.E.
By far favorite building- Emirates Towers. Favorite urban space- Bastakiya
Click hereto visit her Facebook page. Sanmita has a blog about the events and activities of YAF’D which is currently undergoing some remodelling. Check back to see when it is back online as we will make an update with the blog address.