Thursday 11 June 2009

Learning from Dubai.......up and down the Sheik Rashid Bin Waleed Al Mahktoum Road

One of my favourite books is Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown's Learning From Las Vegas. Venturi and Brown took their Architecture students to Las Vegas in the late 1960's as part of a much larger research project. What is so interesting about the book is how they began to deconstruct the whole city and record what they call the Iconography of Urban sprawl into its component parts. For example, directional space, scale, speed, symbol, billboards, illuminated signage and my favourite, the decorated shed i.e. hot dog stands in the shape of a hot dog. On a recent visit to Dubai, I have tried to identify the equivalent of what Venturi calls the 'strip'. Of course in a place such as Dubai there is not such thing yet, but what I did is to identify a main route - in this, case the Sheik Rashid Bin Waleed Al Mahktoum Road which runs from the original city to the megastructures around Jemeirah. Naturally Dubai is not as established in the same way as Vegas but these are examples of what Venturi refers to as the Architecture of Persuasion.

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