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Interview for the UAE Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennial
Harris 1959 master plan
Sheikh Rashid commissioned John Harris to prepare the first master plan of Dubai in 1959. As opposed to planning by zones, John Harris devised a system of roads and grids that were to grow out of old part of the city surrounding the Creek. These lines grew out of the old city pattern toward the desert. In effect he designed a city of exponential expansion, than of inward looking neighborhoods, anticipating the large influx of settlers that were to move to Dubai in the 70s and 80s. He kept almost intact the old town and its trading traditions around the Creek. He saw Dubai evolving into a global metropolis. The Creek was a source of livelihood and trade. The new grid was aligned with its natural geometry. By extending the grid from the Creek and reaching out to the desert it provided opportunities for infrastructure projects relating to trading: the expansion of the airport in the desert and along the coast the construction of both ports Rashid and Jebel Ali. Soon after the placement of the first iconic structure in the Gulf, the World Trade Center in the 78 took place, away from the old town center to a new location which was to signify the beginning of Sheikhs Zayed Road and pointing towards Abu Dhabi and the West. The vision and message of Sheikh Rashid was clear: We are here, we are expanding and we are reaching out to the rest of the world.

Harris master plan
above: John Harris – 1959 master plan of Dubai

Dubai trade center
above: John Harris – Dubai World Trade Center, AR magazine 1976

Dubai trade center
Dubai trade center
above images: John Harris -Dubai World Trade Center

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OpenSource_Architecture workshops and presentation of the design and building of a Children’s Home Mkuranga District, near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
OpenSource_Architecture

A group of about fifty students, young graduates and practicing architects and designers in the UAE have been involved in the design of a Children’s Home and School in the Mkuranga region in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Mkuranga is a rural area filled with sporadic and informal settlements with a large number of orphan children. Largefield Charity Organization in Tanzania has bought a piece of land, which is designated as an orphanage in the community development in a predominately Muslin population. The area of the plot is 30 hectares on a sloping site. The project will accommodate 300 children, ages between 6 months to 18 years old. The proposed master plan includes accommodation for the children and their caretakers, a small nursery and primary school, community areas, administration and guests rooms, services and kitchen, playing fields and landscaping.

The work was developed in a series of weekend design workshops. These workshops focused on planning, landscape, architectural and construction proposals: Master Plan, Accommodation, Community and Common Areas / Services / Administration, Nursery and Primary School, Landscaping / Topography / Sports fields, Materials and Construction Methods.

The work addressed social and economic needs as well as environmental and functional requirements in a region of limited resources. The project is envisioned to become a prototypical model of similar institutions to be developed in Africa. It is a small project that will have a greater impact. For most participants this is their first real project.

Architects involved in the team include Zayed Motlib, Ken Tracy, Kevin Mitchell, George Katodrytis, Sharmeen Dyed, Alia Dawood, Traudel Schawarz-Funke, Francis Ireifej, Christine Yogiaman, Hani Falaha, Angel Javier, George Newlands, Maria Mortera and Raya Ani.

The concept and schematic design was presented and discussed to a large audience on March 2014. The next stage will involve looking closely the making of social spaces for the children and designing in detail the various buildings and their siting on the sloping ground as well as various methods of construction, structure and materials.

OpenSource_Architecture, which is a non-hierarchical and non-profit design collective of architects, engineers and designers coordinated the project. Participant members work on contextually sensitive, problem-solving projects in territories with limited resources. Their focus lies in improving quality of life whilst respecting existing social/cultural structures and exploration of materials and techniques/methods. The
OpenSource_Architecture and project in Tanzania is coordinated with Sharmeen Syed.

Tanzania Children's Home
above: Visit to a a Children;s Home in Mkuranga, Dar es Salaam

Tanzania Children's Home
above: Early studies

Tanzania Children's Home
above: Phase One proposal

Tanzania Children's Home
above: Primary school Proposal

Tanzania Children's Home
Tanzania Children's Home
above images: Site models

Tanzania Children's Home
above: Material and construction studies

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George lectured at Studio-X Amman Lab (Columbia University)
February 2014
Emergent Material and Performative Urbanism: A Search for a New and Dynamic Architecture of the Middle East
Urbanism in the region has a remarkable precedent. New technologies of communication and transmission of imagery have brought about dramatic morphological changes. Westernization was interpreted as the only form of modernization. Yet emergent practices of dynamic processes and topological modeling are now capable to incorporate a new language in architecture that can reconnect urbanism to modern life, environmental specificity and culture. Instead of celebrating the uniqueness of the architectural object, performative urbanism focuses on how the object (material tectonics), the process of production (programmatic iterations) and local behavior (contextual anomalies) can become culturally relevant. The generation of form follows a process in which geometry, coded with material behavior, becomes responsive to fields of influence, physical forces and environmental dynamics.






above: Abound with supra-spectacles, Hollywood-esque appeal and the hyper-planned, the future fictitious city has become a comment on its own urban, ex-urban and suburban realities. This form of urbanization also shows a preoccupation with the fabrication of an image. Image as part of Trans-cities series in collaboration with Sharmeen Syed



above: scripted hybrid landscape by George



above: project by Sema in George’s studio


above: project by Faiqa in George’s studio

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George made a presentation and instructed a workshop at the the Global Metropolis event Present Futures in October 2013 in Moscow, Russia.

The Present Futures was a symposium and a series of seminars that explored the relationship between the global metropolis and its embedded networks—both spatial public networks and virtual social networks. The discussion focused on the opposing scales of these “micro” and “macro” networks and their roles in shaping the future of global cities where citizen-based micro-social networks and governmental “macro” urbanism are at odds over the future of the global metropolis. As architects, how can we use invisible social networks to affect change in the physical and material realm of the global metropolis?

The travel workshop was part of the 3-semester program at Columbia University that invited students to imagine improved urban and architectural forms that overcome the constraints of today’s global city. Through their design research, the students were challenged to project strategies that deal with the emergent needs of a global urban environment that is growing at a staggering pace. The focus of the program was globalization and its consequences for the cities of today.

George’s presented Visualizing invisible systems: constructing datascapes

The developing pervasive, mobile and network media have already a dramatic effect on the production of urban spaces creating a new discourse. The intersection of digital and urban systems will result in new architectural formal expressions, emerging ambiguous urbanisms and new materialities. The physical, the digital and the virtual will fuse into a new ‘datascape’ that will be visual but also for the first time interactive and performative.

Moscow
above: Present Futures poster
Moscow
above: Mapping thermal energy in Dubai – student work in George’s studio
Moscow
above: The Camp – a non-space network
Moscow
above: Algorithmic urban densities
Moscow
above: Mapping WiFi networks in Dubai – student work in George’s studio
Moscow
above: Interfacing notational systems – student work in George’s studio
Moscow
above: Interfacing 3-dimensiaonl urban systems – student work in George’s studio

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Roaming Trans_cities and Airborne Fiction – click the image to enlarge and zoom in at the Roadblocks international event, organized by Neme, Limassol, Cyprus, 2012.
In collaboration with Sharmeen Syed.

The Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf is home to some of the world’s most controversial settlements that have grown into major economic and global hubs following rapid transformation. Urbanism in the region has a remarkable precedent. Historically, urbanizing large areas and introducing a new aesthetic and ‘art’ is very much inherent in the creation of the contemporary ‘Arab city’. New technologies and communications, regulations and infrastructures have brought about dramatic morphological changes. Westernization was interpreted as the only form of modernization. The traditional Islamic horizontal urban pattern and its direct relation to land and water have shifted to vertical and global networks of trading, tourism, fantasy, orientalism and investment generating new fractal cities, satellite urbanisms and telegenic imageries.
A canvas for global and nomadic crossroads; north-south immigration patterns and east- west trading axes bisect a tabula rasa of hues, extreme climates and strange topographies, provides a complex matrix of interconnectivities. These post-colonial cities of the 21st century have grown out of new technologies, telecommunications and mega infrastructures that have brought about dramatic morphological and ecological changes. This is the future state of world urbanism – prescriptive and full of visual dramatization. The aerial view has provided encapsulations of civilization and modernization while simultaneously empowering the spectator with the omniscient gaze. The gaze of the cartographer mapping territory – territory to acquire and territory acquired – is associated to the production of knowledge and ultimately the definition of the ‘empire’, be it geographical, virtual or imaginary.
The past decade has witnessed the climactic boom and collapse of urban daydreams embedded and immortalized in renderings, master plans and fictitious cameo appearances. As cities recover from hallucinated wealth, they also retain relics of the imagined/unrealized along with the histories and global references accumulated from the past. Abound with supra-spectacles, Hollywood-esque appeal and the hyper-planned, the future fictitious city has become a comment on its own urban, ex-urban and suburban realities.

This form of urbanization also shows a preoccupation with the fabrication of an image. Coastal necklace settlements, sand and silicone, pixelated patterns, landscape and render farms, fractal and parametric formations, simulated SimCities, dynamic formations, master plans and speculative developments are now projecting new satellite urbanisms. This spatial and urban approach emphasizes enclaves but also exclusiveness. We are now planning and designing cities by gazing down on the action from heavens. Reconnaissance technologies turn into spectacle and ‘telegenic’ fantasies addressing mass tourism. Simulated panoramas and imagery of unfinished projects give rise to an exciting promise and fantasy. In effect digital imagery and technology is shaping the future of cities. After all we are all nomads inhabiting an image.

Welcome to nowhere.

Roaming
Roaming
Roaming
Roaming
Roaming
Roaming
Roaming
Roaming
Roaming
Roaming
Roaming
above: Collages

Roaming
Roaming
Roaming
Roaming
above: Exhibition space, Limassol

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