Architecture, Art, Design: Dubai’s happening.

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Dubai keeps on growing at an increasing rate, powered by the Emir’s drive to create a megacity. 

The city is known for its “bling bling” excess as reflected by the supercharged towers and the city’s glimmering.

The city seems to have taken the best of everything from everywhere, with no limit whatsoever. Above all else, you realise that modernity is rooted somehow here. When I was there they were testing the first taxi drone: the Emirates play on advanced technologies more than any other cities in the world.

This mercurial city of almost three million in the United Arab Emirates, where people of 40 nationalities live side by side, welcome immigrants as guests of the Emirates. All the expats I’ve met there seem to be positively enjoying their life in Dubai, even if they miss Europe who seems more and more enable to retain some valuable people.

In the recent years to respond to the need of citizens for cultural events (and not only shopping experiences), the “city managers” (!!) decided to expand the Art and Design world in Dubai.

Rem Koolhaas Pritzker Prize – winner’s first building in Dubai: a place where Architecture and art come together.

Known for brassy developments like the world’s biggest shopping mall and tallest skyscraper, the city hosts the Pritzker Prize – winner’s first completed project.

Rem Koolhaas was commissioned to create a building that would allow for museum quality exhibitions in Dubai.  

The 600m2 space, Concrete, has a translucent façade with full-length doors, double high ceilings, movable walls and translucent front façade that can be positioned to create a seamless indoor outdoor experience, using the complex’s large central courtyard.

Alserkal: the art galleries quarter

Alserkal Avenue is named for its founder, Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, a member of a wealthy family involved in real-estate development and electrical energy, as well as other sectors of business. Beginning in 2007, offering favourable rents, he lured art galleries to this family-owned property. Dubai’s Ayyam Gallery opened there in 2009, later joined by fellow locals including Isabelle van den Eynde and Carbon 12.

Alserkal was inspired to create an arts village by the example of formerly industrial, now newly developed areas like London’s Shoreditch and New York’s Meatpacking District.

Not far from Alserkal you will find the design district called D3, which is the heart of the  “creative community”


D3 the design district

In 2013 the UAE’s Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, decided to create a purpose-built design district. They started by building the quarter from the ground, on empty land and that is the Dubai commercial culture!

The district is dedicated to the design community and it is a mix between office space (with startups, and entrepreneurs), luxury and fashion brands, small boutiques with galleries, workshops and artists’ studios.

You will find Zaha Hadid local office and gallery near trendy shops and in between you will enjoy a coffee at the very chic Harpers Bazaar Cafe.

Dubai’s Art scenes’ major event is Art Dubai and Design Days.

This year’s 11th edition included the Contemporary and Modern gallery halls, featuring 94 galleries from 43 different countries.

The monumental work of the London-based Bangladeshi artist, Rana Begum, has won the ninth edition of the prestigious Abraaj Group Art Prize. The work can be described as a floating platform made of transparent geometric coloured pieces, playing with the light and movements.

The quality of the fair, of the exhibiting galleries, the art works shown and the events impressed me. Even if it’s still not Art Basel, I must say I was not expecting such a dynamic scene.

In terms of events, I’ve attended a memorable diner: “The Room, Cooking Liberty”,  a surrealist visual and gastronomic experience taking cues from Salvador Dali’s cookbook, Les Diners de Gala.

I must say that this was a very unique experience, I couldn’t eat most of the 12 courses but each of them was a real surprise for all guests seated in a “banquet-gala” style set up.

Once someone told me: “if you don’t know Japan you are missing a major part of the world experience”. Today I will say the same about Dubai, whether or not you like it.