Nomadism and Trans-cities

Through the Roadblocks – Dubai: Films, Machines -[as agencies and, hybrid]- Replicas and landscapes Visionary futures: filmic and robotic landscapes as autonomous systems

The exhibition showed work by 20 architects who investigate new relations between the territories of science, nature and fiction. The work explores complex, rich and contradictory realities of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures. Projects adopt machines as events and architectural spaces set to interact and generate nomadic scenarios in remote landscapes (deserts, water and islands). The work combines digital and analogue techniques that often see projects moving between digital and manually crafted images and collages several times during the composition of a drawing.

Digital scripting

The new tools of topological procedures allow operations such as stretching without tearing, and folding without gluing, preserving only a set of very abstract properties invariant. By adopting contemporary form-making practices, such as modeling in the physical and the digital form, the work attempts to break some of the preconceived boundaries of architecture, notably that of the traditional sequence of site, program and proposal.

Flat grid with prosthetic geometries Urban centres in the UAE are ‘cities from zero’. The work investigates the development of design through explorations of formal and material systems and their association with urban networks. Large numbers of nomadic populations are constantly in flux, in a city that is constantly evolving. Its recent rampant growth and the explosion of mega-scale structures provide opportunities to study new typologies of building programs and forms. Within the urban grid and the already monotonous and partly predictable urban condition, the generation of prosthetic geometries and new morphologies acts as catalysts and variants for innovation. The work challenges the current practice of architecture in the region and makes alternative and real proposals for the city.

Satellite Urbanisms

Dubai’s urbanism poses a preoccupation with the fabrication of its perceived image. The exploration of places through imagery is a contemporary phenomenon. As the technology in the production of imagery of un-built and newly built architecture has become more sophisticated, its image becomes an end in itself and can now be transmitted across the globe instantaneously. The imagery of artificial coastlines and intense skylines of clusters is now projecting a new satellite urbanism based on a spatial-urban approach that emphasises an enclave but also exclusiveness. Dubai is turning into a postcard portrait city. Panoramas and imagery of unfinished projects give rise to the exciting promise of fantasy. This is the future state of world urbanism. In effect imagery is shaping Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Orientalist Modern Cities

UAE developers have adopted the elongation of the picture frame – the panoramic – especially in landscape paintings found in Orientalist paintings. This technique simulates depictions used in historical representations. Despite the current production of iconic architecture this exact historical representation coincides with a mental map of these cities, which paradoxically is still routed in their Islamic imagery. Urbanism in the Arab world has a remarkable precedent. Historically urbanizing large areas and introducing a new aesthetic and ‘art’ is very much inherent in the creation or the contemporary Arab city. The expo of Orientalism is now driven by UAE Master Developers, promoting a western lifestyle in oriental settings, representing Gulf culture as haute couture in exclusive towers of wealth or gardens in exotic islands. These cities manifest the contemporary interpretation of Orientalism, sensual, spectacular, artificial, subliminal and above all contemporary and global. Furthermore as the model of the Islamic city was shaped by Westerners might show an ‘indigenous’ space, this imagery is now a major export, attracting million of tourist seeking the authenticity of the Arabesque. In effect the ‘global tourist’ has been shaping Dubai and Abu Dhabi.


Shahin Manouchehr Hesarshourkabi (IR), Lara Tahhan (KW), Ali Aminu Monguno (NG), May Saad Al-Godi (IQ), Talin M-Mahdi Hazbar (SY), Rodrigo Francisco De Moura (BR), Rami Mo’ien Alotaibi (JO), Fadi Faisal Banani (LY), Maha Moustafa Habib (EG), Ammar Mohammed Ali Yahya (IQ), Soulaf Maen Aburas (SY), Roxanne Anis Djaiji (LB), Farah Faris Mudhafar (IQ), Sema Kasem Al Orouk (SY), Eyad Mahfouz (SY), Maryam Mohammad Alhaj Mudhaffar (AE), Shaza Khursheed (PK), Dunia Abu Shanab (PS), Waleed Al Mezini (EG), Cham Nagwan Al-Araji Enbashi (SY).

Curator: George Katodrytis

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