Font Size

- Aa +

Wed 13 May 2009 04:00 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

Man in the mirror

Michael Jackson is not an architect. As far as I know, the self-styled King of Pop isn’t interested in the industry and, while he’s contributed millions to charities throughout the world, he’s never endorsed a building or asked people to buy property because his mug adorns it.

Michael Jackson is not an architect. As far as I know, the self-styled King of Pop isn’t interested in the industry and, while he’s contributed millions to charities throughout the world, he’s never endorsed a building or asked people to buy property because his mug adorns it.

What he has done, however, is sell approximately 750 million records over the course of his career and, through his humanitarian and musical endeavours, inspired countless millions, perhaps billions, of fans. His initiatives have brought him to every corner of the globe, winning him multiple humanitarian awards, a kingdom in Africa and audiences with several US presidents and the Queen of England.

The fact is, MJ is influential, to everyone, everywhere. Some of you may remember breakdancing to Off The Wall or being frightened by Thriller. You may remember practicing the moonwalk before school dances or, dare I even suggest it, wearing a shiny glove on one hand at some stage.

In his 1988 single Man in the Mirror, MJ sings: I’m starting with the man in the mirror / I’m asking him to change his ways / No message could have been any clearer / If you want to make the world a better place / Take a look at yourself and make that change.

These are poignant lyrics that many of us in the industry would do well to remember. Without needlessly pointing journalistic fingers at anyone, everyone in the industry should be using the sobering experience of the last six months to figure out how changes in his or her business philosophy or strategy can benefit the work. If the recession is teaching us anything, it’s that the same wasteful, careless or superficial approach to the work isn’t going to fly. Those massive purse strings that Gulf governments used to lure international architects and consultants are being drawn shut without a second thought unless the project can demonstrate a contribution to the burgeoning style that is Contemporary Gulf architecture. The Gulf’s tallest, biggest, shiniest and most logic-defying towers have all been cancelled or postponed indefinitely. Contemporary Gulf architecture is about applying tradition, culture and modernity, in equal parts, to create something that is undeniably ‘Gulf’ yet clearly modern.

The State of Qatar is doing this on a massive scale at the moment. Studio Cowi has captured this essence in its design for Tehran’s first green building. Estidama is an approach to sustainability that is built on these precepts. Plan Al Ain 2030 was written with Contemporary Gulf architecture as its backbone and Doha’s AEB is one of the biggest proponents of the style.

MJ began his 1988 smash hit with the words: I’m gonna make a change / For once in my life / gonna make a difference / gonna make it right. While MJ may not know a thing about architecture, he is influential, and those words he wrote 20 years ago are as pertinent today as ever.

Jeff Roberts is the group editor of ITP Business’ design tiles magazines.

For all the latest construction news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.