Architecture & Tourism Conference – Dubai 2007

The Architecture & Tourism Conference was held at the IAU(Islamic Azad University) Dubai Campus, on February 28, 2007. The conference was organized by IAU and 2A magazine.
Following introduction talks by the IAU Chancellor, Dr. Rajaeian, paper sessions were underway moderated by George Katodrytis.
Six speakers made presentations covering a wide range of issues relating architecture to tourism and its effects, focusing mainly on the city of Dubai. Mohammad Ashouri spoke about the “Impact of Recent Architectural Developments and Tourism” and how UAE’s lack of historic sites of attraction made way for alternative breathtaking architecture.
Shahriar Yaghini spoke about “The Heritage of Architecture and Tourism” and the authentic experience by renovating traditional dwellings in Iran to become tourist attractions. By avoiding grand monuments and by changing the use of small-scale buildings the traditional building typology is kept intact. This creates unique settings for tourists.
Adina Hempel from Hamburg, presented “Dimension Dubai – Sensibilities of Global Tourist Urbanism”. Adina expanded her own research of Dubai, a place that projects itself as images of its future, placed in its everyday reality.
Both the abstracted quality of these images and their physicality in terms of billboards, fabricate a “sur-reality”. Tarek Naga from Los Angeles, presented his design proposal for OQYANA, the “Australian archipelagos” of the Gulf Sea placed in Dubai’s World, cluster of islands. Tarek showed how natural forces
can form the shape of islands and their subsequent evolution into three-dimensional forms of overlapping dense programs. Michael Schwarz presented “The Bedouin’s trace”, a prototypical hotel design that re-enacts early Bedouin land settlements. The hotel is a machine – both a building and a vehicle -that moves along the desert, as the ultimate tourist experience: that of arrival and departure.
George Katodrytis presented “Dubai: Tourism and the end of public space”. He analyzed some of his thinking of the city as public fantasy and the privatization of space. He then showed design projects both of his students and of his own, emphasizing the transitional condition of the city. The invited Discussion Panel (Inga Dagfinnsdottir, architect in Iceland, Shahrouz Mahdavi, architect in Dubai and Bahram Shirdel, architect in Tehran) made critical comments and initiated a lively discussion and interaction with the audience.
Dubai still remains an enigmatic and fascinating emerging urbanism of the future. It is too early to construct a critical discourse on a city still “in-situ” that has managed to have the world watching. Will the Dubai phenomenon turn into the Dubai success? Maybe not and yet everyday we are proved wrong.
The conference was well attended by professors and students of architecture and design from IAU, AUS, AUD and Ajman University.

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