VIDEO: Jean Nouvel on Arabic Architecture, Context and Culture

In this powerful interview, Jean Nouvel explains his relationship to Arabic architecture. Discussing his various projects in Arabic countries – such as his office tower in Doha or the Louvre Abu Dhabi - Nouvel discusses how he is influenced by and integrates the abstraction and geometry of traditional Islamic architecture into his modern designs. He also espouses a strong opinion on the understanding of context in architecture, saying: “I’m a contextual architect, but for me the context isn’t only the site. It’s above all a wider historical context – a cultural context… each time, building is trying to continue a history, and to take part in this history.” His architecture, he says, is about listening: “The architect is not meant to impose his own values or his own sensitivities on such general plans.” Video via Louisiana.

Rosewood Abu Dhabi / Handel Architects

© Gerry O’Leary

Architects: Handel Architects
Lead Designer: Glenn Rescalvo, AIA, Partner
Area: 102000.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Gerry O’Leary, Don Riddle

Sowwah Square / Goettsch Partners

© Lester Ali

Architects: Goettsch Partners
Location: Al Maryah Island, , UAE
Design Team: Mubadala Real Estate & Infrastructure
Area: 529,400 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Lester Ali, Mubadala Real Estate & Infrastructure, Michele Nastasi, Aerial Image

Sheikh Zayed Bridge / Zaha Hadid Architects by Hufton+Crow


Becoming a destination in itself and potential catalyst in the future urban growth of , the Zaha Hadid designed Sheikh Zayed Bridge was conceived in a highly mobile society that requires a new route around the Gulf south shore, connecting the three Emirates together. Hufton+Crow shared with us their photos as they capture the many viewpoints of this sinusoidal waveform structure. A complete gallery of images after the break.

Bulgari Pavilion / NaNA

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The Bulgari Pavilion, a temporary installation commissioned by prestigious luxury jewelry brand Bulgari, was designed by NaNA for the Art 2012 event held Saadiyat al Manarat, November 5-10. The architects were given a prominent outdoor space at the entrance of the event to create a lounge for VIPs and dignitaries of the art fair. Their design was conceived as an exclusive and private venue with live music, a bar, and a specially curated selection of Bulgari’s high end jewelry. More images and architects’ description after the break.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum / Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Courtesy of Ateliers

The Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum, designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, aims at creating a welcoming world which associates lights and shadows as well as shimmers and calm places in a serene atmosphere. Its objective is to belong to its country, to its history, to its geography, avoiding being either a dull translation of this reality or a pleonasm meaning boredom and convention. It also aims at emphasizing the fascination generated by rare encounters. More images and architects’ description after the break.

In Progress: Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi / HDR Architecture

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Architects: HDR Architecture
Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Interior Design:
Completion Year: 2013
Photographs: Courtesy of HDR Architecture

Al Hilal Bank Commercial Tower / Goettsch Partners

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Challenged to define a distinctive image that would reflect Al Hilal Bank’s unique brand while also setting an international aesthetic, Goettsch Partners designed a bold, contemporary tower that shifts in massing as it rises. The flagship commercial development, located in the heart of ’s Al Maryah Island, formerly known as Sowwah Island, conveys a timeless image through its distinct architectural form. With an expected competition in the last quarter of 2013, the new 24-storey speculative office tower will be a key element for the central business district. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Al Bahar Towers Responsive Facade / Aedas


A quick glimpse at the upcoming weather for will show a week of intense sunshine, temperatures steadily above 100 degrees Fahrenheit with 0% chance of rain.  In such extreme weather conditions, even architects listing environmental design as their top priority are up against a tough battle.  Never mind that the sand can compromise the structural integrity of the building, the intense heat and glare can render a comfortable indoor environment relatively impossible if not properly addressed.  For Abu Dhabi’s newest pair of towers, Aedas Architects have designed a responsive facade which takes cultural cues from the “mashrabiya”, a traditional Islamic lattice shading device.

More about the towers’ shading system after the break.

Mafraq Dialysis Center / Stantec

Courtesy of Stantec

Architects: Stantec
Location: ,
Design Team: Erik Hokanson, AIA, Tamer Fawzi, Reham Hussein, Abhishek Gupta, Wafaa Sleiman
Project Year: 2012
Project Area: 75,000 sq ft
Photographs: Courtesy of Stantec

Guardian Towers / LAB Architecture Studio + ERGA Progress

© Javier Callejas Sevilla

Architects: LAB Architecture Studio in association with ERGA Progress
Location: Danet – Al Qudra,
Design Team: Donald Bates, Oliver Hunt, Peter Davidson, Joseph Sawaya, Faris Hammady
Project Year: 2011
Project Area: 53,800 sqm
Client: Guardian Real Estate
Photographs: Javier Callejas Sevilla


Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects

Courtesy of MZ Architects

Architects: MZ Architects
Location: Al Raha Beach, ,
Owner & Developer: Al Dar Properties
Project Manager: Al Dar Laing O’Rourke Construction
Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: ARUP
Facade Design and Construction: Josef Gartner
Total built-up Area (including basement): 123,000 sqm
Cost: AED 1,000,000,000
Completion: Jan 2010
Photographs: Courtesy of MZ Architects

Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi / SOM

Sheikh Khalifa Medical City ©

Saif Bader Al Qubaisi, Chairman of Health Services (SEHA), has unveiled plans for the new three-million-square-foot, 838-bed Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC). The new complex, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) in a joint venture with ICME and Tilke, will replace the existing Sheikh Khalifa Medical City and provide expanded medical, pediatric, and trauma care for the residents of Abu Dhabi.

Mustafa K. Abadan, Design Partner for the project, says “The new Sheikh Khalifa Medical City balances the technical demands of a world-class medical center with the psychological well being of its visitors. The design allows for the flexible integration of next generation medical technologies, while the incorporation of amenities, such as trees and hanging gardens coupled with restaurants and retail, provides tranquility, relief and a sense of normalcy for patients and their families.”

Continue reading for more images and the architect’s description.

Sheikh Zayed Bridge / Zaha Hadid Architects

© Christian Richters

Archtitects: Zaha Hadid Architects
Location: , UAE
Design: Zaha Hadid
Project Architect: Graham Modlen
Project Team: Garin O’Aivazian, Zahira Nazer, Christos Passas, Sara Klomps, Steve Power
Completion: 2010
Photographs: Christian Richters

Abu Dhabi International Airport / KPF

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The new Midfield Terminal Complex at International Airport was just approved by the Executive Council of . Within master plan, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), the terminal is conceived as a gateway to the city. The design creates large, unimpeded internal zones that will enhance the passenger experience, and can accommodate long‐term adaptability to industry demands. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Infinite Free Iraqi Constitution Proposal / Manhal Al Habbobi


How can you condense more than ten thousand years of civilization into a single project that faithfully tells the story of a great nation? The answer is in the winning design of a prestigious architectural competition, to design the new compound for the General Secretariat for the Council of Ministers in Baghdad. Zaha Hadid and more than 30 other international architects participated in this competition, won by the Iraqi Architect Manhal Al Habbobi (Master in Philosophy of Architecture) with his ‘CAP Emirates’ design. More images and project description after the break.

Yas Island Yacht Club / Omiros One Architecture

Courtesy of Omiros One Architecture

Architects: Omiros One Architecture
Location: ,
Year: 2010
Photographs: Courtesy of Omiros One Architecture

Federal National Council’s New Parliament Building Complex / Paul Stallan Studio

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Paul Stallan Studio’s response to the competition brief for the Federal National Council’s New Parliament Building Complex was to promote a monumental Islamic architecture that had both gravitas and iconic potential. A huge cubic form was proposed that held within it a major assembly space suspended within an enormous courtyard. More images and architects’ description after the break.