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Dubai as Metaphor


image: © 2005 Harry Lambert

My sisters-in-law have vacationed in Dubai for a decade now and have remarked on what an utter and complete transformation has happened there. Once desert, the city is now home to some new and visionary architectural projects.

The money it must take to create, say, what will be the world's tallest building or to do massive terra forming is mind-boggling. No wonder architects and engineers are lining up to strut their stuff in Dubai.

The problem is that as forward-looking as the work is and as seductive the visual forms are, the power use to keep those structures functioning (cooling for instance) is very old world. I haven't seen many proposals (not that I have looked very hard) that, for instance, use solar as an integrated element - one that would make the buildings sustainable. The focus then seems to be on extravagant form.

Dubai then becomes symbolic of our time. With money comes the potential for something truly great that could be used as a model throughout the world. Instead it is used for an investment in surface.
gregory turner-rahman