middle east


Darryl Chen, 01 12 08


 

Reinier de Graaf presented OMA’s Ras-Al-Khaimah project to a packed audience last thursday for the Architecture Foundation in London. After a characteristically thrilling account of global urban affairs effectively narrated by statistic and graph, the talk turned to the patronisingly-titled “city in the desert” project (as though we could describe London as a “city by the river”), bringing on what could be described as one of those “Elvis has left the building” moments.

OMA’s reading of Dubai as a study in banality has its response in the banal urban proposition for RAK, though in this case, banality is not the insistent cultural phenomenon of Dubai’s skyline, but rather the unashamed rolling out of the urbanist’s stock-in-trade – “compact city” densities, a public transport loop, and (yawn) the accommodation of a naturally occurring oasis. The mediocrity of this proposition is nowhere near recovered by its context-less square plan and generic city grid, tired emblems of what may be late-OMA mannerism. This is a scheme so mediocre it begs the question – what happened to one of the most intellectually engaging self-critical practices on the planet?  (more…)