Building on the moon

“In the centre of Abu Dhabi, you see glass walls, with the sun reflecting off them, coming back off black asphalt, so that you can’t wait to get out of there and into a chilled building.” Norman Foster. Undoubtedly, Abu Dhabi follows Dubai’s path. Tall skyscrapers are springing everywhere like mushrooms. Among them, there are some constructions which really make  difference as The Central Market in Abu Dhabi and the scale models of the museums on Saadiyat  island. In the latter,  another scale model was added,  the Zayed National Museum  by the architect Norman Foster, who gave an inspirational lecture at one of the main universities in Abu Dhabi.   Foster advises an ethic of returning to traditional methods of construction to get “more with less”, marrying state-of-the-art technology with the skills and building crafts honed over centuries. His beliefs are obvious in his three constructions: the Souk , the Masdar-0% carbon city and the museum.

Zayed National Museum

He said about architects:

“An architect must grasp all aspects of a city’s life, from sculpting its sleekest towers to channelling its gutters and drains. Architects need to go beyond simply designing buildings, to extrapolate a world view that can revilatise whole neighbourhoods and offer its inhabitants a better life.They must be schooled in social theory while demonstrating business verve, understanding the implications of climate change while exuding mathematical expertise. They must combine a flair for physics with an artist’s imagination, while assimilating traditional building methods, learned over centuries, with the cutting-edge advances of contemporary science”

“If, as an architect, you believe there is a future beyond cheap energy and gas, then it’s very interesting. We’re trying to anticipate a future where we make spaces comfortable without using cheap energy. This is generating an architecture that is unique.’

Αbout Abu Dhabi :

“You’re doing the equivalent of putting a man on the moon running laboratories with air-conditioning 24 hours a day in the middle of the desert, with no access to cheap oil, generating solar energy, and processing waste on site. You need to be very clever.”

The basic power needs are heightened, of course, in a region where the economy is driven by oil, and in an age now hyper-aware that one day, fossil fuels will run dry.

“We build structures higher in the air, not to say, ‘here I am’ – though they do say that – but to seek to pull the breeze to a higher altitude. This was happening before anyone invented the generation of electricity.

“We must use the intellect and experience to build cool places in the desert, and through using these techniques, we can anticipate a world without cheap energy. If humanity aspires to those standards, we can learn from those traditions, to create desirable places to live.”

“It is evident that things are happening in a different way here(Abu Dhabi).It is no accident that this pioneering work is happening here and not anywhere else in the world. With Masdar, and with the museum, we’re seeking to work with the elements, to do more with less. We’ll be working the way people worked centuries ago – to make a desirable oasis in the desert.”

The Gulf region  is big business for Foster + Partners, the company he founded, has at least five large-scale projects underway in the UAE.