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Metropolitan Dubai and the Rise of Architectural Fantasy

Originally published in Bidoun Magazine

by George Katodrytis

Recent progressive architectural projects have generated new forms and expressions in response to new global realities, cultural fascinations and technological advances. Like their predecessors, the new architectural fantasists move beyond the mundane to transfigure, distort and extend, and therefore bring new meanings to architecture.

Dubai is an extreme example of the 21st century visionary architecture/hybrid urbanism.
Over the last twenty years, at a remarkable pace, Dubai has developed into a global crossroads. This urban mirage continues to spread out vertically and horizontally without any signs of slowing down.
To the visitor, this cosmopolitan city might seem peculiar and hyperactive, with no layering or apparent hierarchy. Its allure lies in its ability to adjust rapidly, in its complexity, in its contradictions.

The city tends to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time, because it has no urban center or core. Dubai thrives on newness and bigness, in an act of ongoing self-stylization and fantasy. Hence architecture is crucial, for it defines these elements. Little more than a grand-scale shopping mall, the city is comprised of "mind-zone" spaces, and of airport-like lobbies.
In this theme park orientated cityscape, there is no differentiation between old and new. Everything is recent. Yet everything seems to point to the twin towers of consumerism and tourism.