We went to Emirates Palace last Thursday for an exhibition for Al-Saa'diyyat Cultural District projects, focusing on the 4 main projects designed by Gehry, Hadid, Ando, and Nouvel. I think today is the last day for the exhibition, so.. Honestly I can't make up a word for what's going on there, it's a great thing to have 4 major architecture pieces in the country, and in the same time I think it's a bit out of place but anyway I'm into the isolated architecture of each building. They didn't even illustrate the residential areas, nor the figures for the development that one would think justifying for such a massive attempt. 27 Billion Dollars will be spent for making this district come true.
This the masterplan for the whole district, and the 4 main projects are highlighted in green going from left to right: The Guggenheim Museum by Frank Gehry, The Museum of Classical Arts by Jean Nouvel, Performing Arts Center by Zaha Hadid, and The Maritime Museum by Tadao Ando. The path connecting the Maritime and the Guggenheim is also connected with the exhibitions in the middle of the district and the Competition-Project, Sheikh Zayed National Museum, the project which i think is the most meaningful and culturally connected of the whole thing.
Gehry's Guggenheim is supposed to be designed based on the local setting, I loved a section diagram that was displayed that I forgot to take a picture of but it showed the relationship between the composition and the windcatchers (Barjil) and the function of the glass cones in the solar/wind sheltering and harvesting.
Isn't this too chaotic?
I'm not going to start on it's form (am I even allowed to?), I think with projects of such scale it's a bit irrelevant to judge it's form, but in this case I can't look anywhere past it's form! It's all about it's form actually.
I'm a fan of user oriented projects, where a design takes into consideration a human perspective, and when a project is that big one can't see elevations in the first place, so it turns into perspectives.
A Cone study model
If the scale of those human figures was accurate then that is one humongous door.
This is Zaha's Performing Arts Center, I really don't know what to think of this one! When I view it as a piece of form I just think of hideous! I like angles of it but I feel it's too out of place, too futuristic.
This is the influence of the project; the Lotus Leaf. I have to admit that I like the lines of the project, Zaha's angles are present as well, but the simulation and her new 'fluid' approach is what sets it apart from her signature sharp angles.
A 'Void' in the center of the mass, it feels like a courtyard-like attempt and I think it's successful! Light will penetrate through the spaces generating great interior views.
When I view the form as lines I like it a lot more, neglecting it's complete alienation to the local setting, but:
THIS is hideous.
The coming 2 projects in my humble opinion are masterpieces! I'll start with Nouvel's, Abu Dhabi's Classical Arts Museum, supposedly The Louvre.
Someone called this a UFO but it is not a UFO! It's a state of the art geometry generated dome! (Loving the UFO thing by the way)
I mean look at this piece of art, Nouvel developed the spaces underneath the dome according to traditional elements and then used his geometry mastery to cover all of those spaces with a dome that reflects excess heat and in the same time penetrates light in a magnificent way creating a stellar environment!
This shows how Nouvel developed the dome according to those geometric patterns, and as well it works as a structural frame that holds both domes.
Mesmerizing view! It even shows on the model! The great thing about the presentation of this project is that they didn't try to push it towards the future that would make it look like an attempt to copy a traditional building, in fact it's very humble in presentation that one would feel it totally fits.
It looks like a map from the 80's framed on one of the municipalities walls!
Ando's Maritime Museum was described by Mr. Charles Jencks as 'the least successful icon of the four projects, it's offering Tadao's style rather than a new icon'. It's obvious that it's an Ando signature minimalist composition, but personally I don't think that sets it back anywhere from being the most symbolic and relating to it's purpose of the four projects!
Tadao says in his interview with Identity that the main element is the sea itself, reinforcing the maritime theme of the museum. I found that to be very symbolizing, he says:
This gate, similar to The Arc de Triomphe on Paris, stands like a monument of an era, symbolically connecting the winds of the past with the winds of the future. Its void acts as a monument, materialising the Abu Dhabi of people's consciousness into the future without forgetting to preserve their history and traditions.
Those are study models of the composition with minor differences except for 2 or 3 models that are different.
The spaces of the museum are interesting to me, I like how he connects the underground aquarium with the spaces beneath the gate, this visual communication thing going on is very symbolic too, seeing the Dhow floating by the entrance path and all.
Honestly, I hate the opening.
This is a sketch that I did according to a diagram that was on display that I think illustrates how the curvature of the gate is going to be constructed.
It was embarassing for me when I saw that sketch, it was done by Tadao himself right on the wall, I was feeling the wall but in my defense I was checking if it was a real sketch and not a picture!
Tadao's great sense of order! Tadao used lots of his elements in this building, even his columns.
The columns he used in his Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas.
The art exhibitions in the middle of the district were designed by several firms that I didn't bother remembering the names for but I managed to remember Mr. Khaled Al-Najjar's proposal for 1 of them since I'm a fan of his firm's work.
I was roaming with Mahfooth most of time, and he couldn't but name some of them.
The Star Trek building
I can't really remember what he said here, this is Al-Najjar's proposal.I like the simplicity, feels like Mies/Le Corbusier/Snøhetta in a way. By the way the one on the left is done by SOM.
This one sucks majorly.
I don't like those 2 either.