Name of the Student
Name of the Lecturer
Proposed Dissertation Title: Contemporary Translation of Traditional Architecture in the Middle East
Chapter 1: Research Theme, Questions and Conceptual Framework
The research theme and questions as well as conceptual framework are discussed in this chapter. The section starts with conceptual framework, followed by research theme and finally research questions. The aim of this study is also indicated in this part of the paper. They are deliberated upon as follows.
This section of the paper explains a comprehension of Frampton’s view on critical regionalism and why the author believes that although the ideas concerning the topic of study were developed in the early 1980s, they can still be realized and applied in today’s globalized world with its tendency towards modernism and aesthetics. The concept of critical regionalism proposes resistance to this homogenization of the built environment that results from modernization. It is against the individual forms of narcissism, modern architecture, scenography, abstract or visual that have become dominant and made it possible to export architecture around the world. One problem of a single world civilization is that it exerts a sort of attrition or wearing away at the expense of the cultural resources which have made the great civilizations of the past and therefore, critical regionalism proposes an alternative to the clearly aging modernism and post modernism by aiming to reground architecture evoking the oneiric essence of the site, and understanding the place and tectonics.
This approach suggests the condensing of the artistic potential of the region while reinterpreting cultural influences coming from the outside. The investigation of the local is the condition for reaching the concrete and the real, and for dehumanizing architecture. It does not propose a nostalgic summarization of local traditions, nor does it completely reject these traditions. Basically the concept stresses that architecture based on regional building customs is more ecologically sound as regional architecture is a successful spontaneous attempt to resolve a specific problem within a specific place. An example of that is the sustainable design of the local pitched roof which is conscious to local climate due to its capacity to protect walls, provide shade, and dispose rainfall and snow
Middle East and especially Doha, the capital of Qatar, there is an architectural design known as the Education city. This unique scene is believed to be the first pattern globally where various international architects have worked contributing their theories and ideas through practices of creating learning, research, and nurturing environments. The overall appearance of the building indicates a masterful integration of skillful use of tone values and color as well as incorporation of solid geometry and this proposes a dialogue between modernity and tradition (Simone 410). As an architecturally dazzling intervention and visually striking, the building was designed using a theme developed by conventional Arabic mosaics which are evocative as they are made of crystalline sand structure (Saqaaf 6).
The other architectural scene is the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA. In a typical museum scene, the correlation between the buildings from inside and outside the spectacles seems to be quite paradoxical. Dedicated to reflect the full vigor, municipality and complexity of the Islamic world’s arts, the MIA preserves, collects, exhibits, and studies masterpieces spanning in three continents (Africa, Europe and Asia) (Forty 68). The Museum resulted from a journey of discovery which was conducted by Pei whom had the quest of understanding the Islamic architecture diversity hence his world tour (Hillier 25; Saqaaf 6). The museum has two cream-colored limestone buildings, a two-story Education Wing, and a five-story main building connected by a central courtyard (Saqaaf 6). The angular volumes of main building step back as they climb up around a five story high doomed atrium, reflect and capture patterned light in the dimensioned dome.
The West Bay Business District is significant in relation to the concept of critical regionalism. This emerging business district is a building with multiple competitors. It is a new developed essential hub. This scene promotes new lifestyles, work, urban image, and a spectacular skyline (Frampton 37; Mohammad 90). The West Bay Business District is a high solidity development that consists of high costly glass towers. Though it has generated a spectacular image of becoming a typical of the city, personal buildings are in competition in positioning themselves in the skyline front and offering a striking departure from classic designs of urban high towers. Some notable three major competitors to this building include the Al Bidaa Tower with a persistent twisting form as well as a rotating floor plan with multi-dimension curtain wall reflecting sunlight throughout the day and artificial internal light during the night (Rose 121). The second scene is Burj Qatar which is a 45 storey office tower with which its appearance is textured from a distance giving the building a more fragile traditional Islamic pattern in a closer proximity. Lastly, the third scene is the Tornado Tower with a dramatic external lightening scheme created by Thomas Emde. This spectacular system is able to display a total of 35,000 different light combinations.
Critical regionalism seeks a regionalism of liberation rather than a regionalism of restriction in order to be in tune with the emerging thought of time. We can achieve that by calling the place-defining elements and incorporate them strangely rather than familiarly to reach a regional innovative and modern solution. Contemporary architecture should neither be branded as internationalism nor as a folkloric or historical concept of region, but it should be more responsive to regional distinctiveness and the possibilities of meaning available at that locality.
That said and done, we cannot divorce ourselves from international culture and the homogenizing tendencies of technology. Therefore, the approach that should be taken involves
studying and learning from the vernacular and the same time translating and re-describing this in a contemporary way. Understanding the technical demands of the project in incorporates the environment, climate, and aspects that may be unique to that place.
The Doha’s architecture may be metaphorically taken as a drama allegory. The term drama may be defined as any condition or sequences of events with stunning, conflicting, poignant or prominent outcomes or interests. Drama is a narrative which is performed by actors before an audience and engrosses a collaborative mode of production as well as a collection of reception. This is synonymous with the architecture of Doha. The drama in itself is the narrative at the rear of the public face of the buildings. The actors majorly are the international architects working for or with client organizations whereby representing different cultural positions and interests. There is a mixed audience and is symbolized by an average citizen, local community, expatriate professional, tourist visitor, and even the global world. Thus the Doha’s architecture includes cultural politics, which is an important element.
Qatar is an Arab country and part of Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) hence has a strong connection of religious and cultural ties with the Mediterranean countries. This therefore means that, there is an amalgamation of influences that can be witnessed in the cultural politics models. There is also a “Pan- Arabism” influence, a secular Arab ideology which constitutes a country of different societies bound together with a common cultural, linguistic, and religious historical heritage (Bianca 179). Moreover, there is an indirect “Islamism” influence offering ideology and largely displaces “Pan – Arabism” and is also seen emanating from the Contemporary Persia (Mohammad, 100). These cultural politics have a bearing on the nature of architecture and urbanism adopted by Doha hence various building styles.
The study will be guided by the following research questions:
How is the relation between the phenomenon of drama allegory on Doha’s architecture and urbanization?
What is the influence of other oversea architects on Doha’s architecture and urbanization?
How the theatrical nature of Doha is commensurate to its building structures?
Aim of Work
The main aim of the research is to investigate the influence of cultural politics on the building structures adopted by Doha.
Chapter 2: Resources
Critical Regionalism and World Culture
The field of architecture today can only be maintained as a significant practice if it presumes an arriére-garde position, that is, it distances equally itself from the myth enlightenment from the perspectives of progress and reactionary as well as unrealistic impulse of returning the architectonic forms during pre-industrial past. A vital arriére-garde should do away with the optimization of highly developed technology and the persistent tendency of regressing into evocative historicism otherwise known as the glibly decorative (). It is a matter of contention that only the arriére-garde has the capability of cultivating a resistant and identity-offering culture as well as possessing a discrete recourse of universal technique.
It is imperative to qualify this term arriére-garde in an attempt to diminish its vital scope from conservative policies such as Sentimental Regionalism of Populism with which it has association. In grounding this term, it is necessary to appropriate critical regionalism as stated by Tzonis and Lefaivre (1981) in cautioning against regional reformism ambiguity that was the order of the day during the 19th century. They coined the following profound statement:
Regionalism has dominated architecture in almost all countries at some time during the past two centuries and a half. By way of general definition we can say that it upholds the individual and local architectonic features against more universal and abstract ones. In addition, however, regionalism bears the hallmark of ambiguity. On the one hand, it has been associated with movements of reform and liberation. On the other, it has proved a powerful tool of repression and chauvinism. . . . Certainly, critical regionalism has its limitations. The upheaval of the populist movement –a more developed form of regionalism – has brought to light these weak points. No new architecture can emerge without a new kind of relations between designer and user, without out new kinds of programs. . . . Despite these limitations critical regionalism is a bridge over which any humanistic architecture of the future must pass (cited in Frampton 1981 p.1).
The fundamental approach of critical regionalism should be meditating on the blow of universal civilization coupled up with elements indirectly derived from the peculiarities of a specific place. It is thus clear that critical regionalism relies on the maintenance of a high-leveled critical self-consciousness. Critical regionalism may find its ruling inspiration from the quality and range of the local light, tectonic obtained from a unique structural mode or from the topography of a site (). It is a cultural strategy and bears a world culture as it vehicles the universal civilization.
Culture versus Nature: Topography, Context, Climate, Light and Tectonic Form
Critical regionalism obviously involves a directly more dialectical relation with the nature more than the abstract and formal traditions allowed by the modern architecture. It is evident that the tendency of tabula rasa of modernization gives priority to the optimum utilization of earth-moving equipment though the totally flat datum is considered as the mainly economic matrix where the rationalization of construction is predicated. In this case, one also considers the basic opposition between autochthonous culture and universal civilization. The bulldozing of the irregular topography to become a flat site indicates a technocratic gesture that inspires a situation of absolute placelessness and the terracing of the site receives a stepped form of a building engagement in the process of cultivating the site.
Such mode of acting and beholding clearly brings someone to the Heideggers’s etymology and at the same time evokes the technique of Mario Botta, a Swiss architect in the building of a site (). These techniques make one to argue that in the last instances of specific cultures of regions, that is, the history of both agricultural and geological sense; it becomes engraved in the realization and the form of the work. This engraving has got many significance levels for it has embody in its capacity in the built form the archeological past and subsequent transformation and cultivation as well as the pre-history of the area a cross time (). Through this approach of layering idiosyncrasies on the site, there is expression and not falling into the object of sentimentality.
It is of great significance that any theoretical tool should improve the understanding of problems that are inherent in the historiography of Middle East architectural needs in enquiring into the historically and socially established institutional framework while sustaining the activity of discourse (May 34). Moreover, the tool should broaden to the active facet, that is, to the scheme of agents of the discourse production (Correa 330). The cultural production agents (discourse) are fascinated agents who constitute their personified histories via the intervention of comparatively autonomous dispositions (Lury & Wakeford 38; Groat 110). Such a two-fold study of cultural production in a societal environment is of great importance (Bourdieu 64).
This study will use participant observation as a method of data collection. Participant observation is defined as the methodical description of behaviors, events, and artifacts in the social environment chosen for study purposes (Marshall & Rossman 79). Making observations allow the researcher to give a description of existing conditions by the use of five senses thereby giving a “written photograph” of the condition under study. The process of participant observation enables a researcher to learn concerning the people’s activities under study in their natural setting by observing and even being involved in those activities.
Therefore, the study will use the subjectivism and objectivism analyses modes. Subjectivism also known as phenomenological analysis is geared towards understanding the social world by the primary experience as well as perceptions of individuals (Bourdieu 66). Objectivism on the other hand engages one in an objective and systematic understanding of social structures which inform practice with no consideration on a personal human agency and consciousness (Groat 110). Since the social life is objectively conditioned and grounded and also objective conditions influence behavior extensively through the intervention of individual beliefs, experiences, and dispositions, the Bourdieu approach intrinsically considers the double dimension of social reality as the bedrock of understanding social structures.
Chapter 5: Time-Table
Activity/Month November December
Week1 Week2 Week3 Week4 Week1 Week2 Week3 Week4
Acquiring of resources (secondary information)
Gathering of Data
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Simone, Armstrong. People as Infrastructure: Intersecting Fragments in Johannesburg Public Culture 16, 3: pp. 407-442, 2004.
Vassigh, Swart. A Digital Pedagogy for Learning Structures. Journal of Architectural Design, 74(1):112, 2004.