designMENA Summit: Street art regenerates old Dubai neighbourhood

The evolution of street art and how it can be used to create a cultural narrative was the subject of a presentation by EDGE architect Ivar Krasinski at the designMENA Summit, held in Dubai.

He told the audience that graffiti has been around since ancient times – but when it became a part of the urban landscape in the 1970s it was seen as an anti-establishment gesture.

But now it is being used as a tool to bring an older area of Dubai back to life – showcasing the work of local and international artitsist.

“It was youths taking out their frustrations by writing on trains at first,” Krasinski said. “There was a perception that this contributes to a rise in crime [as the environment looks uncared for] but the counter- argument is that it is not really hurting anyone and the people doing it are not involved in serious criminal activity.”

As the idea of street art evolved it became recognised as a way for the artists to express themselves.

Krasinski said: “It turned what used to be subversive into an extension of the cultural narrative as the establishment appropriated it.”

|Dubai has now taken the idea of street art on board with large walls the canvas for designs.

What is now December 2 Street – formally Al Dhiyafa – is now being renovated and is an avenue for street art which interprets Emirati culture and traditional Arabic calligraphy.

“The next phase of this redesign will see influences from across the world, including canopies, play areas and even bus stops,” said Krasinski.

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