15 April 2009

Liveblog: Stu Appel - Greetings from Dubai

Stu Appel - Wells Appel

Greetings from Dubai: Design, Environment and Impressions of a New Middle East

Rather than talk about his own work, Mr. Appel talked about the larger context of this important place.
We are all temporary stewards and we try to learn lessons from the past. But here is a place with no lessons from the past, no history, no grounding to identify what is important. The Bedouin history is limited, there was a little pearl industry and a small port city.

3:1 Male:Female ratio
83% of the city residents are expatriates – they can’t own property
Home to the iconic Burj Al-Arab hotel and the tallest building ever, the Burj Dubai
In 2006 the population had grown to about 1.4 million (over 1 million men)
The Palm Islands will have 4000 villas, 1000 water homes, 5000 apartments

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Other notable features of the city included the Mall of the Emirates, with its indoor ski slope, and the district of Dubailand. Stu described Dubailand as Orlando times 2.5.

The world financial crisis has impacted the place as well, with hundreds of billions in construction that has halted.

45 minutes by plane from Dubai, but a very different approach
Doha is taking down its embassies to create green space along the water
Less than half a million residents, more expats than not
Has protected older places and created other quality spaces - Souk marketplace
It is a place of contrasts - Fishing ships cross in front of modern structures
The heat still requires better indoor spaces like at the Sidra Medical and Reserach Centre

They are not immune to the dramatic - check out this video of their island complex called The Pearl...

The environmental impact may not get discussed as much, but the opportunity to participate in some of these unparalleled experiences is a trade off that some designers won't make. And the cultural conflicts are tough, so guides have emerged. But this is an important place and different people and groups are dealing with it in different ways - ULI has a new magazine called Urban Land Middle East.

Summary: Not a travelogue, not a design presentation, but a serious and thoughtful discussion about this emerging world center.

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