Monday, 23 July 2007

A dream house

I don't know if its the architectural design of the house or the fact that its located at the top of a rocky mountain with a view of a perfect blue sea; this Californian Casa Finisterra is my dream house. Designed by Steven Harris Architects, the house reveals the struggle between blending in the rocky mountain by using stone cladding in certain areas, and defying the mountain by using contrasting smooth surfaces painted white in other areas. Huge areas of glazing in the living rooms allow maximum natural daylight in and views of the extraordinary landscape surrounding the house.

Tulach A'Tsolais Memorial

"Tulach A'Tsolais" means "Mound of Light"... the monument, designed by Scott Tallon Walker Architects, is located in a hill in the landscape of Ireland's County Wexford and was built to mark the 1798 rebellion against English rule. The monument was completed at 1998, exactly 200 years after the rebellion.

Playing with shades

Designed by Mansilla+Tunon Architects, this is the facade of the gallery of the León Auditorium in Northern Spain. I really like the playful geometry of the facade and the way it manipulates the shades... I just wish that the auditorium was as playful.

More info here and here

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Lute Light

A wonderful portrait of Dhafer Youssef, a Tunisian Ode player. I think there is an intimate and special relationship between this wonderful instrument and its player (the guitar has this relationship too)... that's because you place it on your lap just like a child that wants to play with you... you embrace it with your arms just like you would embrace your lover... and most importantly you hold it close to your heart so that whatever you play really comes from your heart.

I remember I heard from a teacher that an Ode is actually a living being; the sound of an Ode changes with age just like humans... it has feelings just like humans; if you leave an Ode for a long time without playing it gets sad and depressed and the strings will loosen up... its responsive and interactive just like humans; the sounds it produces depends on how the player hits the strings... its a very spontaneous instrument that can help a person pour his heart out like no other instrument.

When I saw this picture all those thoughts came back to my mind... the light at the centre between the Ode and the man's bald head is very moving... it shows how an Ode and a musician can shine together... their relationship is like the sun and the moon... the Ode being the moon that can't survive without the musician's creativity... or perhaps is it the musician who can't survive without the Ode's delicate sound?

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Casa Kike

Project: Casa Kike
Architect: Gianni Botsford Architect
Location: Cahuita, Costa Rica

This is a house in the Caribbean coast for a writer. Raised 1.2m above ground level on round wooden posts that rest on small concrete pad foundations, the house is sensitively designed to respond to the culture by using local construction techniques and materials; local timber is used for beams and columns as well as the cladding and decking.

The shape of the roof was the main design element in the environmental strategy. In response to the high levels of sunlight and rain, the parallelogram shape was developed in relation to the sun's path which insures shading throughout the day. With the front and the rear sides open, it allows sea breezes to naturally cool the house.

Rather than taking the western-influenced style favoured by wealthy Costa Ricans, the house takes reference from native building styles which makes it sit perfectly amidst the trees without interfering with the surrounding greenery. I think its a very inspiring place that provokes creativity.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Sketches of Frank Gehry

This is a documentary about Frank Gehry... although I do admire his architectural style, I can't say I am a big fan... I think most of his buildings should have been in Disney Land right next to Disney concert hall that he designed. His buildings do look intriguing and they certainly put a smile on your face and that's what Disney is for... but can people really work productively and concentrate, for example, in his dancing house? When I first saw the building I thought that it was being crushed by giant ropes (those contour lines on the facade of the building looked like ropes to me at first).

But you can't judge a building by looking at it from photos you have to experience it... and the only Gehry building I've been to is the DZ bank in Berlin which I thought was good and that's mainly because all the craziness is tucked inside the building rather than out... because of its plain and simple facade it sits nicely in Pariser Platz respecting the history of the Brandenburg Gate... but once you get in and enter the atrium, you face a huge blob which looks to me like a shark (or some wild animal that I don't know the name of) staring at you... which I think is very suitable for a bank because banks are wild animals eager to jump you and make money out of you. So I wonder if I visit other Gehry buildings would I change my mind about them or not??

Anyway here is a link to his movie trailer, I would love to see it and get to know what goes on inside this man's head.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

My teacher

Hmmmmmmmm... now this brings back memories... this is one of my Ode teachers... man was I surprised to see him in youtube... I looked around for videos for my other teachers but I guess they don't come from an Internet-enthusiastic generation... my first teacher was Bahraini and he is the one who got me to love this wonderful instrument... then I trained under one of the best Iraqi Ode players and perhaps one of the pioneers of the Iraqi musical school, however he was a bit old and very serious... Sa'ad Mahmood Jawad is the last teacher who combined both the skills of an Iraqi professional musician and the character of a young fun teacher... very good combination.

I knew that I was privileged enough to be trained by the best teachers... but I never really knew how big they were since I was a child... but now knowing that my teacher has his own website adds a nice flavor to it.

"Now I don't want to brag or anything" but I used to play this piece "leita le janah" which translates to "I wish I have a wing"... not as fast as him though... however after 5 years without touching the Ode for more than 5 minutes... its kind of impossible to play it with rusty stiff fingers. Check out other youtube videos of him


A demolished installation by sculptors Dan Havel and Dean Ruck called Inversion in Houston, Texas. Very inspiring but its a shame that it got demolished... I always wonder why would certain temporary exhibits are not kept permanently especially if they were as wonderful as this... could it be a marketing strategy to increase the work's popularity because people never really know the value of what they have until they loose it... or is it kept temporarily simply so that people won't loose interest and get sick of it no matter how fascinating it is?

Another later post by archidose touched on an interesting point... one of the comments said "... the blogosphere is just one huge echo chamber..." which is exactly what I am doing here... this blog is just a way to jot down interesting things I found on the net so that I can find them easily when I need them.

Monday, 16 July 2007

The Leadenhall Building

Project: The Leadenhall Building
Architect: Richard Rogers Partnership
Location: London
Completion: 2011??
Description: A competition entry for a potential development of a site at 122 Leadenhall Street in the City of London.

The site is currently occupied by a 12-storey office building built in the 1960s which will be demolished to make way for the new building. A number of historic Grade II and Grade I buildings in the immediate vicinity of Leadenhall Street needed to be taken into consideration. In addition, the view of St Paul's Cathedral from Fleet Street was to be preserved in compliance with the City Council's Strategic Views Policy.

All those site characteristics resulted in a tall tapered development envelope. The tapering form, inclined away from St Paul’s, creates a spire-like western elevation which produces a contrasting form to the soft profile of the cathedral’s dome and complements its setting within the existing spires of the north and south entry towers and Wren’s St Martin-within-Ludgate. A seven-storey open space at the base of the building maintains existing pedestrian connections and creates an important new meeting space in the City.

I really like the building... its supposed to be another landmark in the city's profile and I think it would... the only think is that its one of those buildings that would look amazingly beautiful at night with colorful lighting manipulating it... however it won't look as spectacular at daytime. I've read somewhere that "all architecture is great architecture at night"... and I suppose there is some truth in that.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Words of wisdom

I was reading a book called The Funniest Fhings You Never Said that had all sorts of quotes said by all sorts of people... and there are three quotes that really stuck in my mind:

"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes"

"Experience is a comb life gives you after you lose your hair"

And my personal favorite......

"The only way of catching a train is to miss the train before"

The Earth from the Air

EARTH FROM THE AIR is an exhibition of large-scale photographs of astonishing natural landscapes. Created by the French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, the theme of the exhibition is to tell a story about the changing planet that we live in today... the content varies from vast desert and colorful fields to urban activities and crowds all around the world.

Brightly colored fields in France.

Camel Caravan in Mauritania.

Carpet Industry in India.

Saturday, 14 July 2007


I've seen this ad for Sony the other day and I just knew that I'll find it in the best site in the world wide web:

When I first saw it I thought it was edited... I never thought that they would actually color-bomb a building... but apparently in Glasgow people are free spirited... its nice to see those people around the building clapping, hailing and some were even video taping the ad whenever a color-bomb went... wish I was there too.

Thats my favorite ad right now... along with those axe ads... how do they come up with those ads is beyond me... very entertaining though.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Abu Dhabi

With all the development taking place in Abu Dhabi... here are few high-profile projects:

Yas Island:

From the same developers of the Central Market... this 2,500 hectares island will be a paradise for every motor-sports enthusiast. 30-minutes away from the Abu Dhabi City... it will host the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009... it will have a Ferrari theme park, race tracks for rally driving, drag racing, and go-karting... And if you are not into motor sport don't worry... you'll have a water park, roller coasters, marinas, beaches, golf courses, polo fields, theatre, nature reserve, offices, retail, apartments, hotels and everything you'll need and want available. Here is a promotional video for Yas Island and here is a link for more Al-Dar developments.

Masdar City:

Launched by Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, Masdar is a dense walled mixed-used city that is supposed to be "the first zero-carbon, waste-free city in the world". Surrounded by PV power plants and Wind farms, the city will be car free and will create pedestrian-friendly environment in a pedestrian-unfriendly climate by having narrow streets and shaded walkways. Rail and public transport systems will be within a maximum distance of 200m.

Abu Dhabi Airport:

With the establishment of Etihad Airways, the new Abu Dhabi government airline at 2003. Its only logical to think about expanding the airport of a developing city. The master plan developed by SOM includes a new runway, new terminal complex, new cargo areas, free trade zones, commercial and leisure development areas, available space for further expansion for other airport activity, and development strategy for the region around the airport.

Of course... like any aspiring city they have invited a few "starchitects" to propose few daring/shitty designs (whichever you want to look at it). Jean nouvel, Zaha Hadid, Frank Ghery and Tadao Ando all have submitted proposals for radical designs to enhance the city's image in the world's map.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Again... Bahrain 2030??

I found this map of Bahrain and had a lot of thoughts about it... some say it was a proposed reclamation map of Bahrain submitted as a document to the International Court of Justice for the Bahrain/Qatar dispute... others say its part of SOM's planning development strategy...

Either way... I find it scary considering that the country is thinking about doubling its size within the next 20 years.... at the moment most urban development is allocated at the north of the main island... most of the southern part, lower parts of the east and west coasts and the lower middle lands are privately owned, military bases or just an undeveloped desert.

There are a lot of disputes about the ownerships of those lands... some say lots of those coasts at the lower part of the island should be public... some say they were unfairly distributed... others say they were taken by force... anyway those are political issues that I don't know a lot about. But in an imaginary, ideal, optimistic, perfect world people will think about the country's needs and not only their pocket's needs... and from that point of view I would think that developing the whole mainland equally instead of concentrating the whole population on the northern parts is a more sustainable thing to do... plus it would be more environmentally friendly than reclaiming land and destroying the marine life for new development... As far as military bases go... those could be set in one of far island isolating it from civilian life.

Plus I think its important to develop islands like Hawar islands and Um Al-Na'asan (which again people say a lot of things about their ownerships)... but of course before any planning there should be deep and lengthy studies and surveys about the site and the wild life in it and what needs preserving and what needs to stay clear of development for wild life protection and so on...

Friday, 6 July 2007

Urban Cactus

Designed by the Dutch UCX Architects, this is a funky residential tower in Rotterdam, Netherlands... I am not a fan of weird and irregularly shaped towers... but there is perfect logic behind this insanity... there are big terraces, double height spaces, loads of natural light in... I don't know a lot about it but from the looks of it it should have some sustainable systems achieving low carbon footprint.

More info here

Ridgemont Typologies

Ridgemont Typologies is an exhibition by Mark Luthringer which "examines the excess, redundancy, and meaningless freedom of our current age of consumption."

From the artist's statement:

The typological form achieves an uncanny synergy and resonance with this subject matter because it mimics the mental images I suspect many of us form as a way of ordering the chaos of abundance that surrounds us. We can’t help but form in our heads lists, groups and categories based on product, brand, price point, style, market segment, country of origin, etc.

To see one of these turned into a group of images lined up together can be unnerving, though. In print, they confront us in a way never possible when they're just in our heads. We are presented with order, and while it is often an absurd, seemingly pointless order, it is one that we recognize immediately.

On how the artist got started:

I used to be one of those photographers who, having found something I deemed worthy of photographing, set out to find and bring back various examples of it, each resulting image a distinct entity that, together with the others, formed a series...

Several years ago, at a well known photographer’s review event, I was showing a series of carefully crafted black-and-white images of decaying mid-century architecture, and a comment by one reviewer had an unintended effect. The comment was about how the forms of curb and powerline were echoed in the architecture, how lovely this was, and how the work displayed a gift of being able to harness these things. My reaction (long familiar with the work) was inner frustration with the fact that he was reading the photograph, not the subject. And while I appreciated his generosity, this time I saw also that I was being given credit for things I didn’t do, or didn’t intend to do. The more I thought about our interaction, the more I came to see that not only could I not take credit for previously existing form, I had no desire to.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Dubai Metro

This is a map of Dubai Metro... the red line is under construction and is due to be completed at 2009, the green line is due at 2010. According to wikipedia, other lines will be added in the future to expand the metro network.

The costs for the full Dubai Metro System are about 14.3 billion AED, including civil works, stations, system fixed equipment, trains, engineering and financing. The operating cost is approximately 570 million AED per year, including staff, maintenance, and power consumption. The revenue is planned to cover the operation coast through fare box revenue, advertisement space, and according to Dubai Municipality website "joint development or other sources". I don't know how long will take to cover the investment cost but I sure do hope they will.

More cute facts about the Metro:
• Trains will be about 75m long, consisting of 5 cars and fully air-conditioned.
• Trains will be driverless, fully automated, running as often as one every minute and a half.
• Trains will run on tracks and the electrical traction system is made environmentally friendly in terms of noise with no gas emissions.
• The total fleet size will be slightly in excess of 100 trains.
• The two lines will total nearly 70 km, with 35 stations along the 50-km long Red Line, and 22 along the 20-km long Green Line.
• The two lines will run underground in the city centre, and on an elevated specially designed viaduct everywhere else.
• In no location will the tracks cross the public highway, ensuring fully safe mode segregation.
• The Metro network will be fully integrated within the overall Public Transit network. Bus routes and stops as well as taxi stations and park will be organised around the rail system, extending its reach in Dubai.

I am really excited for this Metro system... I think its really important for any major city even as small as Manama... it will not only reduce traffic off the streets so car enthusiasts can step on the gas a little bit more... but it could be a step for reducing carbon emissions... I am sure that wind turbines will be of great use if integrated on those trains... after all a train travelling say at 80 km/h on an elevated track will have enough aerodynamic drag to keep those turbines moving... PV panels will surely help as well... I am no engineer but I guess you can have trains running solely on renewable energy if they were on elevated tracks... some are even arguing energy can be obtained by vibrations caused by crowds. Bahrain are doing some studying for a metro system design and I really hope that they consider renewable energy for it


Lego is something that every kid must have spent part of his childhood playing with... most people grow up to be accountants or lawyers and leave that phase behind... few people however remain in that phase... and get paid handsomely for it.

Nathan Sawaya was a lawyer who did Lego sculpture in his free time... after realizing that his passion lies in his art and he is making more money from it... he decided to quit the lawyer thing and concentrate on his sculptures. The picture above is of some of his work for The Art of the Brick museum in the US.

More info here and here

Another artist (not as good though.. his work is more 2D)

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

CAD humor


ALDAR Central Market

I always enjoyed Foster's projects because they always had something special about them... he really knows how to respond to the most demanding surroundings.

The latest Foster+Partners project that really moved me is the redevelopment of the Central Market in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE and the largest emirate. The huge wave of foreign investment to the UAE started in Abu Dhabi under Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan rule... but Dubai, under Shaikh Moh'd bin Rashid Al Maktoum, later developed much faster and are now leading the race for the UAE's economic boom.

Until the F1 circuit, not many people have heard about our small island... I remember my first visit to the US when people asked where I come from... I always say I'm from a small island called Bahrain just 30 minutes away from Saudi Arabia... that's after Saudi Arabia have qualified for the World Cup for the first time at '94 in the US. But now its easier to say that I'm just an hour away from Dubai... I can't say UAE because many people think that Dubai is a separate country.

Anyway, not long ago the emirates were actually separate nations with strong rivalries, which still exist but in a positive way though. You see centuries ago, long time before the formation of the UAE... many Arab, English, and Indian ships patrolled the Arabian sea and Straight of Hormuz which runs to the Arabian Gulf (or Persian Gulf as Western and Persian people call it) for trade. So piracy (not those pirates of the Caribbean with skulls and curses... just normal people who want to steal stuff) was a common thing back then and ships were always vulnerable for a sudden attack. Those pirates, which were made up of different tribes, based their headquarters along the southern coast where they placed all their spoils... because different tribes lived in the area there were tribal disputes over territories.

The British (back then it was the equivalent of today's USA), sick of all this harassment, decided to put an end to all of this so they decided to campaign against those tribes... later a peace treaty was signed between tribe shaikhs to stop hostilities, and any disputes between tribes will be settled by the British. In additions shaikhs would only deal with the British and would not deal with other ambitious European government in return for British immunity. So the land was divided into 7 emirates and assigned to different tribes. (In addition to those emirates... Oman and Saudi Arabia, 2 different countries under the British immunity, had territorial disputes with the emirates because they share long border lines with each other, and I believe that to this day the boarders are not very clear) Its worth to note that the British call it a treaty while Arabs call it colonization.

Aaaanyyywaaaay, the British left at 1971 and after gaining their independence, the emirates formed the UAE.

Getting back to my point, Abu Dhabi is really jealous of Dubai right now and wants to regain its number 1 position in the UAE's race. ALDAR is a property development company established primarily to create real estate developments for the nation of Abu Dhabi and bring it back to the head of the league. The central market is one of their projects.

The 5 hectare development site is a mixed use scheme in the heart of the city, it includes apartments, an Arabian souk, retail, restaurants, office space, hotels, car parks along with a fire station, bus and taxi interchange points. The reinterpretation of mashrabiya windows is the main theme of the scheme and is very successful in my opinion. The development will be completed in phases with the new Arabian Souk finished at mid 2008. The whole scheme is due to be completed at 2010.

Note: Its funny that when I spell-checked this post in blogger... all "Abu Dhabi"s were considered miss-spellings... and guess what the spell-checker thought I wanted to write???? Yup, that's right.

RIBA Awards 2007

The 2007 RIBA national and international awards were announced and I have to say that my favorite is America's Cup Building designed by David Chipperfield Architects and b720 Arquitectos. Located in Valencia, Spain... it's a VIP base for a new international sailing event that provides Cup teams and sponsors massive shaded terraces for viewing the racecourse as well as restaurants and lounge areas. The ground floor is made more public by integrating it with the surrounding area by having cafes and restaurants that are more accessible.

What I really like about the building is that even though its located near the sea, and even though its to accommodate a sailing event... the designers did not feel obligated to shape the building into something like a boat, a sail or a canoe to make it look attractive... If that building was in our gulf... it would definitely look like a "banoosh".

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

A Portrait

I stumbled upon this interesting portrait series of the Luney Toons and for some reason I couldn't stop thinking about how powerful caricatures could be...

When I see this portrait I don't see a cartoon character... I see a charming, intelligent, and most importantly confident rabbit that I really admire... I wish I could be that confident... the look at his eye... his arrogant smile... his posture...

Guess how much does this portrait cost???????? $995!!!!! It's a limited edition which is out of stock now and was created by the animator Harry Sabin and background artist Alan Bodner. Each print is on a framed 27 X 20.5 canvas and is hand signed by the artists.

Other powerful cartoons and caricatures that come to my mind are those found in the notorious MAD magazine... especially what I consider the most famous face in the world... and that's Alfred E. Neuman face. No one can forget the caricatures depicting our Prophet Mohammad(SAW) in that Danish newspaper and all the controversy and riots it created... a great example of how powerful caricatures can be.

But the cartoon that make every adult turn into a 4 years old kid no matter how old you are has got to be the best cartoon ever.... Tom & Jerry...I remember watching it with my dad when I was a kid and he would be cracking up more than I did... hell we still laugh at it today until our stomach hurt as if we never saw it before.

Great Photo

For more click here

Monday, 2 July 2007

Rolling Bridge

Designed by Heatherwick Studio, this rolling bridge (2005 British Structural Steel Award Winner)is located within a new residential, office and retail quarter set around part of the Grand Union Canal in Paddington Basin, London.

12 meters long, the bridge is made in 8 steel and timber sections, and is made to curl by hydraulic rams set into the handrail between each section.

Chill Out in Dubai

Located in Times Square Center, "Chill Out" coffee shop is inspired when Salah Sharaf, a board member of Sharaf Group, visited ABSOLUT ICEBAR in London. In a country where the temperature could exceed 40 degrees Celsius, the idea of an ice coffee shop looked a little ridiculous... but again this is Dubai... where you have a skiing resort in the middle of the desert, 3 identical man-made islands that look like palm trees, rotating towers and 100s of freak-ish-ly tall buildings being built each year.

Chill Out is the fifth in the world of its kind after London, Milan, Stockholm and Tokyo. The project costs AED9 million (US $2.45 million) and took a year and a half to be finalized. The ice, done by Iceculture Inc, will be shipped in freezer tanks by sea and air from Canada for the "best and cleanest kind of ice". Ships in Montreal will embark on a 6,500mile voyage to Dubai. 4 (23,000 kilograms of Ontario-made ice) containers, will set sail to the Middle East. A month later, eight Iceculture workers in Dubai will have $150,000 worth of ice to assemble into an 1,800-square-foot eatery, which will take approximately 7 days.

The restaurant has 3 areas; a lobby, a lounge, and a buffer zone. Visitors will spend 5 minutes in the 5 degrees Celsius buffer zone to allow the body to adjust for the drop in temperature in the dinning area and get a taste of whats coming next... once in the lobby, visitors will be given a hooded heavy jacket, disposable woollen gloves and a pair of shoes. The dinning area will be around -27 degrees Celsius and in all other ice bars visitors have to leave after 40 minutes for health reasons.... not in Dubai though you can freeze to death if you want to.

The electricity will be separate from the national grid, there will be private generators in case of any emergency. Specially designed LED lighting is used not to melt the ice. Every 3 months, all of the interior furniture from the seats and tables to the plates and glasses will be redesigned to revive the restaurant and give a chance for new designers. There will be no smoking in the restaurant (YESSSSS!). The flooring is made of anti-skid ceramic tiles. Will cost visitors AED60 including thermal gear and a free drink. And EVERYTHING is made of ice.

I don't even want to think about the carbon foot print that this project will have on the environment... I am sure it will make money though and unfortunately that's the only thing many people think of.

More info here and here and here

Sunday, 1 July 2007


Designed by Jim Termeer, this candle is the perfect coffee table game for "a circumstance to waste time"... for example when there is a blackout its a good way to keep track of time and manipulate it as well. Its "a a set of cardholders (made of thin gold or silver sheets) that, depending on which candles are lit, can also display numbers..."

My favorite website

I have to say that my favorite website is inhabitat... most of the stuff I find out about is after seeing them on their site... here is an April fools joke they've done...

Check out this post about a church in the middle of the forest.