Nobody would have thought of some places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi to have the greatest building of our generation. Big cities like Barcelone, London, Paris and Berlin may be showcase of the most amazing architectural feats, but it is the latest spurt of development in the Middle East that becoming the playground for big architects. Ever since the challenge of traditional form started by Zaha Hadid and Frank Ghery that architecture of the next generation began to break free and are destined to succeed in places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
While increasing commercial pressure in the western capitalist world hindered many architectural aspiration, Dubai embraced it. With a seemingly limitless budget and a dream and ambition as big as their oil fields, architects found a new playing field. To add fuel to the fire, the global financial crises forced countless developments to a grinding halt in most of the major cities and companies that previously fueled development were forced to stop because of the economic crises.
When Dubai stepped in it was a fresh stash of cash and with architects scrambling for work it provided much needed relief. What made this such a unique set-up was the fact that all the traditional limitations of budgets and strict building control was now virtually out of the way. For the first time architects almost have free reigns as to what they can design and build. Clients are very driven and motivated to have their building stand out and while architects used to be the big dreamers, clients where now dreaming even bigger and the results is a city filled with buildings that defy convention.
Whether its a good thing remains to be seen. One real issue is that in a city where everything looks “different” nothing is “different” any more. Unconventional buildings in an unconventional context can get very boring and the biggest critics of Dubai claim that its nothing but a glamorous theme park that lacks longevity and genuine architectural merit. The lack of architectural vision and cultural identity makes many of these buildings nothing more than buildings without any real architecture.