(or when the fine line between architecture and jewellery becomes blured……..)
Entering the center of Dubai coming from the international airport, you can’t fail to notice a structure that appears to originate from out of this world and that resembles more an alien spaceship or an oversized piece of beautifully crafted jewellery, rather than a building.
I am a great lover of the outdoors and I feel more at home in the mountains or in a small cottage at the seaside than in an urban environment. I am also of the firm belief that nothing man-made can rival the beauty of nature. However, having seen the cathedral of Mont Saint-Michelle in Normandy or the Messner Mountain Museum at the Plan de Corones in Northern Italy, I appreciate that the margins can be very slim…..
I – admittedly – had not prepared myself for Dubai and I only learned while standing infront of this object that I was looking at one of the Emirate’s newest attractions : The Museum of the Future !
While still admiring the beautifully crafted, rounded outside of this ring shaped structure that was covered in long lines of arabic calligraphy two thoughts crossed my mind:
The first was that thanks to Vassiliki’s generosity an entrance ticket for this attraction was actually in my luggage as part of my speaker’s pack.
The other had to do with another innovative and disruptive woman who I deeply admire and who I always imagine to have been the ultimate nightmare for builders and for structural engineers around the world: Zaha Hadid.
This stellar figure of global architecture was a great champion of organic forms in all her designs and to realise her ideas she constantly put computer programs and new construction materials to their absolute limits. Ikonic buildings like the London Olympic Aquatics Centre, the Guggenheim Museum in Vilnius, the Bergisel Ski Jump Tower in Innsbruck or the above mentioned mountain museum in the Dolomites were the results.
The unique design of this beautiful structure is however credited to Shaun Killa, but without being an expert on these matters I wouldn’t be surprised if Zaha Hadid – who passed away far too early – had at some point an influence on Shaun and his team.
Stepping into the building a couple of days later, I was immediatedly struck by the brightness of the light that was entering the huge hall from all sides through the beautifully crafted letters of a poem by Dubai’s ruler Sheik Mohammed.
The eyes are struggling to find any straight lines here with the walls, the staircases and even the elevator shafts resembling natural curves.
Bullet shaped capsules are transporting visitors to the different floors and a couple of huge helium filled silver dolphines are effortlessly floating through the hall and the individual corridores.
The organised tour through the complex, which is starting with a simulated journey into space is – I find – then struggling to match the uniqueness of the building itself, but possibly with one exception: the genetic bank.
As in a vision from a Stanislav Lem novel one enters a darkened room where small glass vials with colourful hollograms of all living and extinct creatures are suspended from an invisible ceiling and the seemingly infinite columns of floating spots of light in this room leaves you with both an idea of the complexity of the biodiversity on our planet and at the same time with a feeling of dread that genetic storage facilities like these might indeed become a necessity in the not so far future.
What a beautiful building. And you are right to have that “feeling of dread that genetic storage facilities like these might indeed become a necessity in the not so far future”
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