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|February 1st, 2007, 10:51 AM||#1|
Join Date: Feb 2004
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#PROJECT: THE CULTURAL DISTRICT (Saadiyat Island)
Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, SOM and many more of the world's best architects are involved in this project. Check it out:
Top architects present designs for Abu Dhabi museums
Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Abu Dhabi - Four of the world’s most renowned architects have presented designs for iconic museums and a performing arts centre in Abu Dhabi.
The architects – Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Tadao Ando and Zaha Hadid– were commissioned by Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC).
The centre will position the UAE capital’s Saadiyat Island, that lies just offshore the emirate, as a world-class cultural destination.
A special exhibition devoted to the concept designs of the projects, complete with building models, was opened today at the prestigious Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Executive Council chairman.
“Saadiyat Island demonstrates the vision of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, to further establish Abu Dhabi’s position as a destination of international standing,” said Sheikh Mohammed.
“The aim of Saadiyat Island must be to create a cultural asset for the world. A gateway and beacon for cultural experience and exchange. Culture crosses all boundaries and therefore Saadiyat will belong to the people of the UAE, the greater Middle East and the world at large,” he added.
In addition to the museums and a performing arts centre for which concept designs have been presented, Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District will also feature the Sheikh Zayed National Museum – a museum devoted to the history and traditions of Abu Dhabi and the legacy of the emirate’s much-admired late ruler His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was also the first President of the United Arab Emirates and often referred to as ‘The Father Of The Nation.’
“It is our intention to shortly embark on an international competition for the design of the Sheikh Zayed National Museum which reflects the importance and centrality we place on this facility,” explained Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and TDIC.
“This museum will pay tribute to our grandfathers and ancestors who left a wealth of cultural heritage that we are proud of. Within the Sheikh Zayed National Museum we shall conserve this heritage and build on it, as it is the soul of this land and its future generations.”
All four architects are international award-winners with three being holders of the coveted Pritzker Prize – the highest honour within the architectural discipline.
Frank Gehry is designing the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi – a contemporary art museum, which will be the only one of its kind in the Middle East; the British/Iraqi born architect Zaha Hadid is designing Saadiyat’s Performing Arts Centre, which will present the finest in music, theatre and dance, Jean Nouvel of France is designing the Classical Museum, while Japan’s Tadao Ando is designing the Maritime Museum which will reflect the rich maritime history of the UAE and the Arabian Gulf.
The Gehry concept for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, which at 320,000 sq ft will be the world’s largest Guggenheim museum, is designed around accommodating approximately 130,000 sq ft of exhibition space. It will feature permanent collections, galleries for special exhibitions, a centre for art and technology, a children’s art education facility, archives, library and research centre and a state-of-the-art conservation laboratory.
“Approaching the design of the museum for Abu Dhabi made it possible to consider options for design of a building that would not be possible in the United States or in Europe,” said Gehry. “It was clear from the beginning that this had to be a new invention. The landscape, the opportunity, the requirement, to build something that people all over the world would come to and the possible resource to accomplish it opened tracks that were not likely to be considered anywhere else. The site itself, virtually on the water or close to the water on all sides, in a desert landscape with the beautiful sea and the light quality of the place suggested some of the direction.”
In the Gehry design, four storeys of central core galleries are laid out around a courtyard. “These will be more classical contemporary galleries, completely air conditioned with skylights where possible and a sophisticated lighting system,” said Gehry. Two more rings of galleries span out from the core.
“The third ring is for larger galleries, built more like raw industrial space with exposed lighting and systems. They would be less finished. These galleries will be attractive as spawning homes for a new scale of contemporary art - art that would be, perhaps, made on site and of a scale that could not be achieved in the normally organised museums around the world.”
In Hadid’s Performing Arts Centre concept, a 62-m-high building is proposed housing five theatres – a music hall, concert hall, opera house, drama theatre and a flexible theatre with a combined seating capacity for 6,300 – that’s 1,100 more than London’s Royal Albert Hall. The centre may also house an Academy of Performing Arts.
“As it winds through the site, the architecture increases in complexity, building up height and depth and achieving multiple summits in the bodies housing the performance spaces, which spring from the structure like fruits on a vine and face westward, toward the water,” explained Hadid.
“The building becomes part of an inclining ensemble of structures that stretch from the Maritime Museum at its southern end to the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi at the northern tip. With its centre of mass at the water’s edge, the Performing Arts Centre focuses its volume along the central axis of the site. This arrangement interrupts the block matrix at the Arterial Road, opening views to the sea and the skyline of Abu Dhabi.
“The concert hall is above the lower four theatres, allowing daylight into its interior and dramatic views of the sea and city skyline from the huge window behind the stage. Local lobbies for each theatre are orientated towards the sea to give each visitor a constant visual contact with their surroundings.”
Nouvel’s design concept for the Classical Museum owes much to Saadiyat’s natural surroundings.
“The island offers a harsh landscape, tempered by its meeting with the channel, a striking image of the aridity of the earth versus the fluidity of the waters,” said Nouvel. “These fired the imagination towards unknown cities buried deep into the sands or sunk under water. These dreamy thoughts have merged into a simple plan of an archaeological field revived as a small city, a cluster of nearly one-row buildings along a leisurely promenade.
“This micro-city requires a micro-climate that would give the visitor a feeling of entering a different world. The building is covered with a large dome, a form common to all civilisations. This one is made of a web of different patterns interlaced into a translucent ceiling which lets a diffuse, magical light come through in the best tradition of great Arabian architecture. Water is given a crucial role, both in reflecting every part of the building and acting as a psyche, and in creating, with a little help from the wind, a comfortable micro-climate.”
Ando’s Maritime Museum concept takes its inspiration from Abu Dhabi’s natural surroundings, landscape and maritime traditions. It has a reflective surface visually merging sea and land. Its ship-like interior has floating decks which guide visitors through the exhibition space.
“Dhows float over the voids of the interior space and help create an intense visual experience by relating objects to one another and to the museum architecture as a whole,” explained Ando. “Below ground, there is a second space – a reception hall with an enormous aquarium. A traditional dhow floats over the aquarium and is seen from different perspectives.
“In order to emphasise the simple, but powerful, shape of the building, the surrounding landscape is organised in grid form. Rows of trees line the forecourt of the site, creating an oasis-like border that allows visitors to transition gradually between the dynamic city and the more serene and contemplative space of the museum.”
One of the world’s most experienced museum consultants, Lord Cultural Resources, has been appointed to plan content and operational matters for the Sheikh Zayed National Museum and the Maritime Museum.
The USA-headquartered award-winning architecture, urban design, engineering and interiors firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) has created the final master plan for the Cultural District.
Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District – one of six distinct districts master planned for the signature destination – will also feature a Biennale Park and 19 international pavilions which will be criss-crossed by a 1.5 km long navigable canal. The 19 pavilions, which will host a range of art and cultural events and activities, will be designed by some of today’s leading architects. These include UAE’s Khalid Alnajjar Russia’s Yuri Avvakumov, the USA’s Greg Lynn whom Forbes Magazine named one of the 10 most influential living architects, New York’s Hani Rashid, the UK’s David Adjaye, China’s Pei-Zhu and Korea’s Seung H-Sang.
“It is also our long-term ambition to develop a creative campus of graduate schools in the fine arts within Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District,” said Sheikh Sultan. “These will be devoted to art, architecture, music and drama. Special attention will also be given to developing educational outreach programmes for the youth of the entire Gulf region.”
Sheikh Sultan added that the Saadiyat Cultural District will act as a “bridge crossing a cultural divide” providing a captivating mix of Arab and Western cultures.
“The contemporary programmes in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District in both the visual and performing arts must be grounded in the cultural traditions of the Middle East as well as the world at large,” he said.
The museums on Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District are scheduled to open under a phased programme starting in 2012. “The development of Saadiyat Island will progress at a considered pace which acknowledges our national environment, heritage and culture,” added Sheikh Sultan.
The Saadiyat Island Cultural District exhibition will be at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The exhibition, which is free-of-charge, is open from 10 am until 10 pm daily with the exception of Mondays when it will be closed.-TradeArabia News Service
Ive seen the designs on Al Aqariya TV yesterday and although they showed them very briefly, they looked awesome. Can't wait to see those designs again!
|February 1st, 2007, 04:10 PM||#4|
Join Date: Jul 2005
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perhaps anyone in abu dhabi who can get pictures from emirates palace of the exhibit panels and the scaled model?
|February 1st, 2007, 04:28 PM||#5|
Bark twice if in Milwauke
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Nueva York
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another article by the New York Times
Celebrity Architects Reveal a Daring Cultural Xanadu for the Arab World
By HASSAN FATTAH nytimes.com
Zaha Hadid’s design for a performing arts center for an island in Abu Dhabi.
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 31 — In this land of big ambition and deep pockets, planners on Wednesday unveiled designs for an audacious multibillion-dollar cultural district whose like has never been seen in the Arab world.
The designs presented here in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates and one of the world’s top oil producers, are to be built on an island just off the coast and include three museums designed by the celebrity architects Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel and Tadao Ando, as well as a sprawling, spaceshiplike performing arts center designed by Zaha Hadid.
Mr. Gehry’s building is intended for an Adu Dhabi branch of the Guggenheim Museum featuring contemporary art and Mr. Nouvel’s for a classical museum, possibly an outpost of the Louvre Museum in Paris. Mr. Ando’s is to house a maritime museum reflecting the history of the Arabian gulf.
The project also calls for a national museum and a biennial exhibition space composed of 19 pavilions designed by smaller names and snaking along a canal that cuts through the island. Art schools and an art college are also planned.
In all, the project, known as the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island, would create an exhibition space intended to turn this once-sleepy desert city along the Persian Gulf into an international arts capital and tourist destination. If completed according to plan sometime in the next decade, consultants predict, it could be the world’s largest single arts-and-culture development project in recent memory.
At times astonishing, at times controversial, the district is part of a far broader $27 billion development project on the island that includes hotels, resorts, golf courses and housing that could accommodate 125,000 residents or more.
The museum designs, displayed at an exhibition attended by dignitaries and the United Arab Emirates leadership, are a striking departure from Abu Dhabi’s crumbling 1970s-style concrete buildings and more modern glass-and-steel high-rises. Still, because Saadiyat Island is undeveloped, architects faced the unusual challenge of an aesthetic and contextual tabula rasa.
The daring designs, some teeming with life and color, others more starkly formal, have one aspect in common: it probably would be hard to build them all in one district anywhere else.
“It’s like a clean slate in a country full of resources,” said Mr. Gehry, who appeared at the exhibition to show off his model for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. “It’s an opportunity for the world of art and culture that is not available anywhere else because you’re building a desert enclave without the contextual constraints of a city.”
No cost estimates were given for the buildings unveiled on Wednesday, but each is certain to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
For the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Mr. Gehry envisions a 320,000-square-foot structure with 130,000 square feet of exhibition space built around a cluster of galleries, a space far larger than his Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain, which cost about $100 million. A jumble of blocks, glass awnings and open spaces, the Abu Dhabi Guggenheim would be centered on a core of galleries of varying height atop one another and forming a courtyard. A second ring of larger galleries is followed by a third ring of galleries housing raw industrial-looking spaces with exposed lighting and mechanical systems.
The design for the classical museum enters into a dialogue with its surroundings, suggesting a submerged archaeological field with a cluster of one-room buildings placed along a promenade. The complex is covered by a massive translucent dome etched in patterns that allow diffused light into the spaces below.
Mr. Ando’s maritime museum design borrows from the maritime history of the emirates, with a reflective surface merging sea and land and a shiplike interior with floating decks.
Ms. Hadid’s performing arts center concept, which seems part spaceship, part organism, is to house a music hall, concert hall, opera house and two theaters, one seating up to 6,300. Transparent and airy, the center hovers over the azure waters of the Persian Gulf.
“It’s an inspiration from nature and an organic design, with a fluid design, as well as a space with good sound,” Ms. Hadid said.
Abu Dhabi’s sheiks dreamed up this sweeping cultural project in late 2004, after brainstorming ways to attract more tourism to the emirate, which is the richest of the seven in the United Arab Emirates confederation, but has largely missed out on the flood of visitors attracted by its neighbor Dubai.
Flush with cash from the oil boom, the emirate has embarked on a development spree intended to update its infrastructure after years of limited development. Abu Dhabi’s tourist board insists it is not trying to one-up Dubai, but instead wants to complement Dubai’s emphasis on other forms of entertainment.
“The real strategic decision here is that Dubai has established itself as a tourist destination, and Abu Dhabi is complementing what Dubai is doing,” said Barry Lord, president of Lord Cultural Resources, which has helped manage the development of the cultural project. “Cultural tourists are wealthier, older, more educated, and they spend more. From an economic view, this makes sense.”
Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Company announced a deal to build the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi last year. Recently it reached a $1 billion accord to rent the name, art and expertise of the Louvre for a museum to be built on the island. Protests quickly arose in France that that country was selling its patrimony to the highest bidder. The emirate’s tourism officials played down the Louvre plan on Wednesday, insisting the deal was not final.
Mr. Lord noted that the arts project was taking shape against the backdrop of continued turbulence in the Middle East.
“They are very conscious here that this can change the cultural climate in the region,” Mr. Lord said. “To be able to add high culture at the high end of international culture, this is a tremendous change.”
After oil booms in the 1970s and 80s in which their proceeds were not always used wisely, Persian Gulf governments are now focusing on spending their surpluses on infrastructure projects and real-estate development. A new generation of leaders in the gulf, especially in the emirates, where a new ruler was installed only in late 2004 and where several ministers are still in their 30s, has looked beyond traditional real-estate projects to efforts that would help their cities stand out on the world stage.
Other Persian Gulf countries have turned to the arts too. In Qatar the final touches are being added to I. M. Pei’s latest structure, the Qatar Museum, built just off the coast of the capital, Doha, to house a new Islamic arts collection. In Sharjah, another emirate, which has fashioned itself as the cultural capital of the Persian Gulf, the Sharjah Art Museum continues to expand its collection and is planning its eighth biennial. And even Dubai is building a Culture Village, centered on an opera house also designed by Ms. Hadid and other arts and culture institutions.
“This is not just about tourism; it also has global cultural dimensions,” Mubarak Muhairi, the director general of the Abu Dhabi tourism authority, said. “We believe the best vehicle for crossing borders is art. And this region is in need of such artistic initiatives.”
Visitors survey an exhibition unveiling designs for a vast and architecturally ambitious cultural district planned for Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, part of the United Arab Emirates.
The cultural district is part of a larger plan for the Persian Gulf.
Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten
|February 1st, 2007, 04:18 PM||#6|
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Austin, TX
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this is an amazing project! wow!
|February 1st, 2007, 04:59 PM||#7|
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Austin, TX
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|February 2nd, 2007, 11:57 AM||#9|
Yes We Can !
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Nanjing (CN), Beijing (CN), Braunschweig (GER), Dubai (UAE)
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New York Times Article and pictures from Spiegel Online
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
FIFTY years ago this modest slice of the Persian Gulf coast was a sleepy settlement of palm-front huts and Bedouin encampments, its few thousand inhabitants mostly subsisting on fishing and the pearl-diving trade. Oil changed all that of course, and since the 1960s Abu Dhabi has morphed into a modern capital of hotels and high rises, fulfilling the economic vision of the United Arab Emirates’ ambitious former leader, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan.
Now the city is on the verge of another audacious leap. Over the next decade or so it aims to become one of the great cultural centers of the Middle East: the heir, in its way, to cosmopolitan cities of old like Beirut, Cairo and Baghdad.
This latter-day Xanadu, as envisioned in a glittering multimillion-dollar exhibition in the lobby of the opulent Emirates Palace Hotel here, would boast four museums, a performing arts center and 19 art pavilions designed by celebrated architects like Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel. The development could include leading cultural lights of the West, from the Guggenheim to the Louvre to Yale University.
Just one component of a $27 billion residential, office and hotel development planned for Saadiyat Island (Island of Happiness), the 670-acre cultural district is still in the nascent stages. Most of the major cultural institutions have yet to sign on officially, and the Guggenheim, for one, is well known for chasing unrealized dreams.
Some will dismiss this kingdom of culture as a mere tourist development in which art, history and regional identity are reduced to marketing commodities. But those who view it as an exercise in global branding or as a feel-good story about an Arab country willing to embrace the values of Western modernity are missing the point.
With once-proud cities like Beirut and Baghdad ripped apart by political conflict bordering on civil war, Abu Dhabi offers the hope of a major realignment, a chance to plant the seeds for a fertile new cultural model in the Middle East.
It’s easy to be skeptical. But judging by the designs released so far, the buildings promise to be more than aesthetic experiments, outlining a vision of cross-cultural pollination.
For Abu Dhabi’s tourist and development authority, mapping out a mix of marinas and beachfront resorts seemed straightforward enough. But when it came to the cultural master plan, the agency decided to call in Thomas Krens, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, known for his campaign to open a dozen Guggenheim branches in places like Singapore, St. Petersburg and Rio de Janeiro (few of which have been built).
He began by pulling together a list of famous architectural talents. For the Guggenheim Mr. Gehry was enlisted to replicate his success in Bilbao, Spain. Mr. Nouvel was offered a “classical” museum that could house visiting exhibitions from the Louvre, Ms. Hadid a performing arts center and Tadao Ando a maritime museum. (Each building is expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.)
Mr. Krens worked with Skidmore Owings & Merrill to revamp the original master plan, adding a canal flanked by a string of 19 pavilions that could be used to present art and architecture biennials — a not-so-subtle knockoff of the highly successful Venice Biennale. Meanwhile the development authority began a series of conversations with Yale University about creating an arts school — encompassing art, architecture, dance and drama — directly across the performing arts center. Next on the agenda is a competition to design a national museum.
In some ways this array suggests the market’s insatiable appetite for novelty rather than a cohesive vision. In the early stages the various cultural institutions will rely mostly on art loans from foreign museums and performances by touring companies. For the time being Abu Dhabi has no opera company or orchestra that would use the performing arts center as a permanent home.
And the exhibition at the Emirates Palace Hotel comes across as an extravagant marketing pitch to the country’s rulers, who have yet to give the project final approval. A chunk is devoted to the Guggenheim Bilbao, a blunt reminder of how architecture has been used as a marketing gambit. A wall text unabashedly projects figures on the income the cultural hub could generate through new tourism.
But in Abu Dhabi, Mr. Krens has found a client whose interest runs deeper than collecting tourist dollars. Sheik Sultan bin Tahnoon al-Nahyan, chief of the tourist and development authority, says the emirate’s desire is to create a contemporary cultural locus with little precedent in the region.
“What is happening is unfortunate in places like Beirut,” Sheik Sultan said. “We want it to come back to its old days.” Ultimately, he added, the emirate hopes that Abu Dhabi’s arts district will become a cultural hub of the Middle East and a starting point for cultural exchange.
Given the difficulties Muslims have encountered traveling to and doing business in the United States and Europe since 9/11, the project can also be read as an attempt to recreate the experience of the West in a secure zone for Arabs, a kind of mini-Switzerland of the Middle East.
Of the architects enlisted so far Mr. Nouvel in particular has spent his career exploring the intersection between the intricacies of local cultures and Western modernism. For his 1987 Institute of the Arab World in Paris, he designed a gridlike facade of mechanical oculi that open and close like camera lenses, evoking an Arab mashrabiya, or latticework window. His anarchic Musée du Quai Branly, which opened in Paris last summer, evokes a violent collision of modern and tribal forms.
For Abu Dhabi, Mr. Nouvel conceived of his classical museum as a watery warren of buildings, plazas, alleyways and canals evoking a small city floating on the sea. A shallow lacelike steel dome nearly 600 feet in diameter hovers over the complex, shielding it from the heat and allowing a delicate pattern of light to filter down to the open-air courts.
The dome recalls traditional mosques and perhaps the enormous geodesic dome that Buckminster Fuller once proposed erecting over Lower Manhattan, a delicate container meant for the rich cultural mix throbbing underneath. It’s as if Mr. Nouvel has fashioned a contemporary Venice, a remarkable expression of the creative magic that can arise when East and West collide.
Although the development company has approached several art institutions about lending artworks to the museum, most notably the Louvre in Paris, its mission is still relatively vague. To accommodate the need for flexibility, the complex is conceived as a series of interconnected galleries whose sequence can be easily reconfigured depending on the scale and nature of an exhibition. Mr. Nouvel also envisions the art spilling out onto the alleyways and courtyards, from sculpture to mosaics.
Mr. Gehry’s Guggenheim, planned for a choice site at the tip of the island, is also conceived as a series of galleries loosely arranged around open-air courtyards, a bit like a souk. But the similarity between the two museums ends there. Passing through a glass atrium, visitors will enter a court enclosed by an enormous cone-shape wind tower. A series of conventional galleries are stacked loosely around the court. Two big warehouse-like galleries spill outward from there, interspersed by several cone-shape exhibition spaces that are tipped on their sides and open to the surrounding landscape.
The mix of conventional and oddly shaped galleries harks back to the design for the Guggenheim Bilbao. But like all of Mr. Gehry’s best work, the design draws inspiration from its immediate context. The cone-shape galleries, which he says are derived from traditional Islamic wind towers, will draw air up through the interiors, cooling them in the summer heat. Their curved forms, which might be fashioned from alabaster or a high-tech fabric, vaguely evoke traditional Bedouin tents.
Mr. Nouvel and Mr. Gehry have ingeniously harnessed local architectural traditions without stooping to superficial interpretations of historical styles. Intrinsically their designs acknowledge that the flow of culture between East and West has not always been one-sided. If they convey nostalgia, it is for a belief in the future.
Ms. Hadid’s design for the performing arts center springs from the complex nature of the site rather than an exploration of cultural memory. Her building will punctuate the district’s cultural main axis, which runs from the site of the future national museum to the waterfront, and offers a sweeping view of Abu Dhabi’s existing skyline.
Looming aggressively over the water’s edge, the structure’s taut glistening form calls to mind a gigantic snake, its tail tapering off toward the national museum. Ms. Hadid describes the complex as a system of entwined branches with four concert halls trapped inside them like luscious fruit.
The belly of the main hall rises into the air, with a waterfront promenade passing directly underneath. At the intersection of the promenade and the main axis, a large public court is crowned by a towering atrium, a potent contrast with the cocoonlike halls.
Of the four designs presented so far, Mr. Ando’s design for the maritime museum seems the feeblest. A stylized stone block that stands in the middle of an enormous reflecting pool, its arching form and cavernous interiors look like an apparition from the ’70s. And the proposals for the biennial pavilions, designed by an array of younger talents over the past month, are a mixed bag ranging from inspired to clumsy.
Yet overall it is heartening to see Western architects engaged in seeking a balance between the brute force of global culture — its ruthless effacement of differences, its Darwinian indifference to the have-nots — and the fragility of local traditions.
A half-century ago the modern forms exported by American and European architects were mostly uniform expressions of the triumph of Western modernity. Today most serious practitioners are willing to acknowledge that cultures are forever evolving, and subject to new interpretation.
The question is whether the creative momentum of the individual designs can be maintained in the cultural district over all. Though still in the early stages, the master plan is a disappointment. It represents nothing so much as an outmoded 19th-century planning formula, — an axial Beaux-Arts scheme with hotels, marinas and cultural monuments sprinkled along the edges. The meandering canal, which was obviously added as an afterthought, is a weak attempt to soften the design’s rigid geometries.
But for Abu Dhabi’s cultural planners the ultimate challenge lies in taking a hard look at the global role of the arts. The world has changed radically since the completion of the Guggenheim Bilbao 10 years ago. The old cosmopolitan models — the avant-garde Modernism of mid-century Beirut, the intermingling of Muslims, Jews and Christians in Baghdad or Basra in Iraq — are unraveling. Once considered great tapestries of human experience, those cities are either riven by internal conflict or, like their Western counterparts, risk being transformed into sanitized theme parks.
More and more, large-scale cultural developments are being used to promote that transformation. At their most cynical they can conjure architecture’s function as a tool of Western propaganda during the cold war, the trade shows and expos packed with symbols of suburban affluence.
This issue is especially resonant in the Middle East, where the basic choice is sometimes presented as embracing a sterile brand of modernity or slipping back into the Middle Ages.
In this context the two most promising elements of the Abu Dhabi plan may be the least developed ones — the national museum and the arts school — since both have the potential to engage a new generation of Arabs in a complex cultural conversation.
As for the Guggenheim, the Louvre and other Western institutions involved in the project, they need to show they are serious about a deeper kind of cultural commitment. For a start they could set up permanent curatorial staffs here to plan ambitious programming rather than lending minor Renaissance masters or second-tier Rauchenbergs and Turrells. Ideally those museum positions will one day be filled by trained Arab graduates.
Otherwise we are simply pushing around pretty cultural commodities — and reinforcing the cultural rifts we claim to be dismantling.
|February 2nd, 2007, 12:01 PM||#10|
Yes We Can !
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Nanjing (CN), Beijing (CN), Braunschweig (GER), Dubai (UAE)
Likes (Received): 26
Last edited by malec; February 2nd, 2007 at 08:24 PM.
|February 2nd, 2007, 03:52 PM||#11|
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Abu Dhabi
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|February 2nd, 2007, 06:29 PM||#12|
Join Date: Apr 2005
Likes (Received): 23
Holy shit! All the top architects working in this. I'd like to see Dubai top this
This could become Abu Dhabi's equivalent of the burj al arab in terms of an icon (although I do sense a small bit of McCulture in this project ). We'll see how it turns out but it could definitely be a catalyst for education in the arts, etc which is always good
And no world forum thread for this?
I wonder how the acoustics will work in the performing arts centre. At the moment it doesn't look like a great hall for performing (or hearing performances really well). I could be wrong though, who knows what it'll be like in the end.
Last edited by malec; February 2nd, 2007 at 06:44 PM.
|February 2nd, 2007, 07:40 PM||#13|
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Likes (Received): 8
and malec, Abu Dhabi already has a BAA equivalent icon.. it's called emirates palace
|February 6th, 2007, 05:23 AM||#16|
Dubai, 21st Century City
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Santa Tecla, El Salvador
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Before I always look the Dubai section, but now I know that all UEA is a wonderful country, and Abu Dhabi is another great city that is having a lot od development too.
|February 6th, 2007, 09:53 PM||#17|
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Likes (Received): 8
give it a decade and see how Abu Dhabi becomes the new center of cranes
|February 7th, 2007, 03:28 PM||#18|
DOH - AUH - Baguio :D
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Doha, Qatar ; La Trinidad - Baguio
Likes (Received): 1
DOHA - Qatar - THE PEARL OF THE GULF...Dubai's competitor city...over $100 Billion in projects, Pearl Qatar, New Doha Int'l Airport, Lusail City
Baguio - Philippines - NORTH LUZON'S ...most popular shopping, dining & investment destination ...largest business center ...real estate capital ...second largest economy (after Pangasinan province) ... Queen City, NORTH OF MANILA'S ... education, tourism & convention center, THE PHILIPPINES' ...Paris ...most unique city... 7th strongest economy...Summer Capital
|February 10th, 2007, 05:59 AM||#19|
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Austin, TX
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The island of culture
For someone who is bringing names such as the Guggenheim and, possibly, the Louvre and British Museum to the region, Lee Tabler makes a surprising remark.
"There is no place on planet earth where museums are created to make money," says the CEO of Abu Dhabi's Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the master developer of the emirate's new ‘Culture Zone', Saadiyat Island.
In a way, he's right. An entry ticket to Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum will set you back US$13.65 and you'd pay a princely US$11 for access to the Musée du Louvre in Paris. Admission to London's British Museum is free and always has been.
Compare this with the artworks on display, and the ticket prices look cheap. The Mona Lisa - held at the Louvre - is priceless and will probably never be sold; items at the Guggenheim are worth millions; let's not get into the value of the Elgin Marbles, under the disputed ownership of the British Museum.
So, art is expensive - but visiting museums isn't. But actually, this shouldn't be much of a concern to the government of Abu Dhabi, despite its plans for five major museums at the new Saadiyat cultural zone.
There are other ways to make, say, Islamic art (of which the Louvre has a collection), or (less likely) the latest work by Tracey Emin, pay.
Saadiyat - which translates from Arabic as ‘Island of Happiness' - is 500 metres off the coast of Abu Dhabi, is half the size of Bermuda, and is set to be the UAE's only ‘Culture Zone'. The cost of its "infrastructure and superstructure" is estimated at US$27bn by the TDIC.
The island is currently entirely funded by the Abu Dhabi government. And support is certainly more than just financial: Just before Arabian Business spoke to him, Lee Tabler was in a meeting with HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, to discuss the emirate's ambitious plans for economic diversification.
The island - due for final completion in 2018 - will be key in attracting tourists who crave more than sun, sand and ‘seven star' hotels.
The museums, scheduled to open in phased stages from 2012, are at the heart of the development. They include the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, an outpost of the Louvre (subject to a deal with the French government) and a maritime museum. There will also be a performing arts centre, and the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, devoted to the history of Abu Dhabi and its late ruler.
The Abu Dhabi Guggenheim, at 320,000 sq ft including 130,000 sq ft of exhibition space, will be larger than operations in New York and Bilbao - and will dwarf the museum at Peggy Guggenheim's former home in Venice. Costing US$400m, according to the TDIC, it will certainly be more expensive. At Bilbao ticket prices, you'd need nearly 30 million people through the door just to break even.
It will be the art that hits the tourist radar, but museum entry charges are really an irrelevance when it comes to Saadiyat. It will be the surrounding developments that will determine whether the ‘Culture Zone' is financially viable.
"Museums do not [make a profit]. But hotels and marinas and homes are commercial and generally have a positive cash flow," says Tabler. The benefits of the wider Saadiyat development, he says, include increased trade, tourism, hotel bookings, and spend per person.
And, looking at the Saadiyat plans, you'll certainly be able to spend a lot of money there. There will be seaview apartments, elite villas and three state-of-the-art marinas.
The ‘masterplan' envisages six districts with a population of 150,000 people - more than live in Oxford or in Hollywood. There will be 29 hotels - including a ‘seven star' Burj al Arab-style operation - two golf courses and other leisure facilities.
The TDIC will not, and could not, develop the entire island itself. What will happen is that parts of it will be portioned off and sold to sub-developers, with the TDIC using the cash to develop other areas of the island and pay for the cultural attractions.
The core cultural district will contain ‘urban hotels' that are "orientated towards contemporary art," he says. "Most of the major hotel groups already have agreements with the sub-developers."
Outside the island's main culture district, building work will be "very low density - we have about a 40% development coverage for the entire island."
The fact that Abu Dhabi can afford a more leisurely pace in this development is an advantage, says Tabler. "We have the time to plan properly - traffic solutions and integration with [Abu Dhabi city]. It's not a purely commercial enterprise - we don't need to make a quick buck."
Abu Dhabi's plans do look a considerable gamble in terms of the eventual size and constitution of the development.
Part of the reason for this is that the creation of such a large-scale cultural zone has never been undertaken before, and that Saadiyat's growth - albeit projected to span over ten years - is not organic. "Generally, most places approach cultural tourism by planning one museum or one biennale, and growing that organically," explains Tabler carefully.
"Our initial plans were based on one museum - the Guggenheim - and our thoughts started expanding from contemporary art to include a Classical Museum, a Sheikh Zayed National Museum, and the Maritime Museum. And we believe that a performing arts centre will complete it."
But the fact that the five museums will be built within a decade, which one can hardly call organic, means that the timescale, budget, and masterplan for the island can not be set in stone. Tabler faces the tricky job of overseeing a development that may, or may not, be completed in 2018, and handling a budget that may, or may not, be in the region of US$27bn.
"We don't know how long it will take - it could be 12 years, it could be 20 years," admits Tabler. "And is that a fixed budget? No - it's an estimate. It may be US$20bn, it may be US$40bn. One cannot start with ‘this is how much money you'll give me, what can I buy?'."
In 2018, adds Tabler, the development "may or may not include all of the elements [under the current Saadiyat plans]. But that doesn't mean they'll be eliminated."
Just as what is included in the plans is fluid, the number of tourists that are predicted to visit Saadiyat are similarly arbitrary: Tabler says that he expects between one million and two million visitors a year by 2012.
However, despite this large range, you cannot help agree with Tabler when he calls Abu Dhabi's entire projected annual tourist influx of three million by 2015 as "very conservative" by comparison.
Given the media interest in the Saadiyat project - the island was flagged on the front page of the New York Times at the beginning of this month, and was the lead story in the Arts section - it is easy to imagine two million people visiting Saadiyat, especially given other attractions set for Abu Dhabi, such as the arrival of Formula One in 2009.
Because who knows, Abu Dhabi could one day display (temporarily, of course) Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, arguably the most famous painting in the world. Could it be?
"Only the [French] Minister of Culture or the director of the Louvre can answer that," is Tabler's response. And yet, given the astonishing vision behind Saadiyat Island, perhaps we would be foolish to rule it out. The Emirates will truly be a capital of culture.
|February 14th, 2007, 01:28 AM||#20|
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Zaha Hadid Architects unveil design of new Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre
Zaha Hadid Architects announce the design of the Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre – a new cultural institution for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation on behalf of the Tourism Development and Investment Company of Abu Dhabi (TDIC)
Zaha Hadid unveiled the design of the new Performing Arts Centre at a press conference in Abu Dhabi, UAE today.
Hadid’s Performing Arts Centre concept, a 62 metre high building is proposing to house five theatres – a music hall, concert hall, opera house, drama theatre and a flexible theatre with a combined seating capacity for 6,300. The Centre may also house an Academy of Performing Arts.
The Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre will be one of five major cultural institutions on the new 270- hectacre cultural district of Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi - developed by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation on behalf of the Tourism Development and Investment Company of Abu Dhabi (TDIC).
Zaha Hadid described the design of the Performing Arts Centre as "a sculptural form that emerges from a linear intersection of pedestrian paths within the cultural district, gradually developing into a growing organism that sprouts a network of successive branches.
As it winds through the site, the architecture increases in complexity, building up height and depth and achieving multiple summits in the bodies housing the performance spaces, which spring from the structure like fruits on a vine and face westward, toward the water."
"The Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre is a continuation of the long-standing relationship we have with the Guggenheim Foundation and with the Emirate. We are very honoured to be a part of the project," states Hadid.
"Our first Guggenheim exhibition design, 'The Great Utopias', was in 1992 whilst the very successful mid-retrospective of our work closed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York less than two months ago. We’ve also been working in Abu Dhabi for many years, the Sheikh Zayed Bridge was a seminal project for the office and its construction is well underway."
Thomas Krens, Director of the Guggenheim Foundation said, "In Abu Dhabi we have had the good fortune to discover a partner that not only shares our point of view, but expands upon it. The plans for Saadiyat Island and the cultural district, envisioned and developed by the Abu Dhabi Government, are, quite simply, extraordinary. When this comprehensive and inclusive vision is realised, it will set a standard for global culture that will resonate for decades to come."
Last edited by zee; February 14th, 2007 at 01:34 AM.