Frank Thoughts

Martin Dufresne
Managing director, U+A Consultants
My thoughts are somewhat divided. On one hand, I do think his remarks are not only evidently ironic, but to a certain extent ill founded, especially if we isolate and scrutinise the architectural virtue of a certain number of buildings in Dubai.

Burj Khalifa for one is a wonderful example of an architect’s contemporary interpretation of localised design. As we well know, it is conceptualised not only through Islamic patterns based on a local desert flower, but its form is also reminiscent of spiral minarets found in Islamic architecture of the region.

The Burj Al Arab too, is another great interpretation of local tradition, and passion, the dhow. It must be said that architectural academics may dismiss this concept to have any merit in the process of establishing iconic structures, but we should really acknowledge the popular appreciation validating its relevance in a city, which is still in its infancy, and still identifying its architectural history.

On the other hand, we could easily make the same remark for many great cities in the world. Hong Kong, New York, Toronto, are all guilty of building generic culturally disconnected structures. Most cities are in some ways burdened with ‘replicas’ of the next town primarily due to a severe lack of originality.

An immediate reaction may be that architects are to blame. However it is my strong opinion that although not all architects are distinctively creative to a level of establishing a single unique style on every building they draw, Gehry’s finger should point at the developer for the most part. These non-architects shamelessly impose their ideologies onto buildings forcing architects to compromise on their designs.”

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