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Sun 7 Oct 2007 04:00 AM

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Global architecture firms eye up Middle Eastern opportunities

Allow me to be the first to introduce to you ITP's newest publication: Middle East Architect.

Allow me to be the first to introduce to you ITP's newest publication: Middle East Architect. ITP has been publishing magazines for over 20 years and its construction portfolio currently boasts the weekly leader in building news, Construction Week; the monthly title aimed at interior design professionals, Commercial Interior Design, and this new title aims to bridge the gap between the two. With the amount of development that is happening in this region, it was really just a matter of time before ITP began investigating this market.

When I accepted this position, I was told that MEA will deliver news, data, analysis and strategic insights for architects operating in the GCC, and although challenging, it is a commendable and worthwhile undertaking. That said, there is another duty that will be taken very seriously at MEA. Regardless of the size, architect or profile of a project, MEA will cover it with honesty and objectivity. As journalists, integrity is the responsibility we accept when we enter the field and it is that which has built our profession into something worth respecting. More than trendy catchphrases, these ideas are the foundation of what we do and they will not be cast aside.

In this month's features, we've analysed glass and asked whether it is the best façade material given the harsh climate of the Middle East. In addition, and we've examined the increased use of lighting in architecture and looked at how it has gone from simply illuminating a structure to actually contributing to its overall aesthetics. We've also discussed design with the Dubai branch of Hong Kong-based P&T Architects and Engineers to talk about its westward expansion and its plans for the Middle Eastern skyline.

Renowned Mexican architect and 1980 Pritzker Prize winner, Luis Barragan, once said, "I don't divide architecture, landscape and gardening; to me they are one." What, I think, Barragan was saying is that architecture needs to reflect the inspiration of its creator and compliment its surroundings. I think he meant that architecture is an organic, living thing that evolves and changes according to its environment. Perhaps he meant that architecture is the result of a continuous conversation between human beings and Mother Nature. Either way, I do not believe that Barragan would approve of architecture for architecture's sake. I do not think he would subscribe to the notion that architecture should shock or strike horror into the sensibilities of onlookers and users. Finally, I don't believe that Barragan would find fascinating a project that tries to invent its surroundings as much as he'd like a project that harmonises with them.

For the record, I agree with Barragan. Just as journalists have a professional obligation to their readers, I think architects have a similar obligation to the communities in which they build. As MEA and I embark on this journey together, I'll be interested to see which architects acknowledge that obligation. I'll gladly explore all of the region's new developments to find out how they improve their surrounding communities. I'm excited to hear ideas for harmonising a somewhat disharmonious Dubai skyline. And, I'll be paying particular attention to firms that can see past their respective bottom lines to consider the environmental footprint they leave for the future.

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david 8 years ago

i am no architect but it dose not take a genius to come to the completion that there wont be much left in the middle east after oil is gone. however brilliant architecture would be wonderful and they have an abundance of resources to make it. i am not talking about trees or queried sand stone no i am talking about sand itself. sand that can easily through burning and heating be turned in to large blocks of glass of any size and shape.