Saturday, 19 January 2008

More news from Dubai

The biggest human-shaped building in the world

Inspiration for the tower: Traditional Arabic clothing

The biggest cross in the world according to some

Well... I am not sure if its good news but I've just heard about this proposal for the biggest concrete and glass human shaped building in the world. Of course such projects are only found in Dubai. The 35 storey, 140 meter, DH 500 million tower is called Burj Al Arabi, and is intended to be built near Jabal Ali Airport as a gesture for greeting arrivals and departures. According to this site, the project also received the backing of Islamic scholar, Ahmad Al Kubaisi. The UAE national had this to say about the project:

"Our Islamic and Arabic history is full of what we can be proud of but we do not make enough effort to reflect this in our real estate sector, as many developers race to copy foreign buildings which have nothing to do with our property heritage nor highlight our historic values. Burj Al Arabi is not intended to be the statute of a person, but symbolises a particular style of dress. It honours the religion, culture and language of the Arab people from a real estate perspective."

The project haven't been approved yet. I don't know the reason for that but my guess would be that it sure had a split decision about its representation of our heritage and historic values. I mean Burj Al Arab have been criticized because it resembled a cross and have been called the biggest Christian Cross in the world. Whether it was intended to be or not, I am sure the developers want to avoid such accusations in this project.

Although the proposal does have some fun features, such as the igal (the black circle at the top) is intended to be a rotating restaurant or a conference center, this is not what Islamic nor Arabic architecture is about. If the intention was to represent "heritage and historic values" through architecture, then depicting human beings is a big no no in Islamic architecture. Even though the architect intended to represent the dress as a symbol for culture, I am sure most people would have viewed the building as an abstract form of a human being. Besides considering the dress as a symbol of culture is very shallow. After all Islamic architecture and Islam always gave more importance to the interior rather than the exterior look. So representing our culture with how we look is not really the appropriate way.

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