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.
above: John Harris – 1959 master plan of Dubai
above: John Harris – Dubai World Trade Center, AR magazine 1976
above images: John Harris -Dubai World Trade Center