The competition to masterplan Muscat, Oman’s new district, Al-Irfan, is over. Organized by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), five teams were chosen to submit proposals for the development project. Of those five, international firm Allies and Morrison has been selected to oversee the design process. The firm will be working in with the Oman Tourism Development Company SAOC (Omran) to develop a site of over 7.4 million square meters into a thriving urban center that will provide business and residential opportunities for the people of Oman.
Oman has a careful approach to urban expansion which has so far proved successful, in light of recent events in the region. However its established model of development is increasingly being challenged by a range of factors – massive population growth, declining oil reserves, climate change, economic restructuring, changing life-styles and an expansion of tourism. Key to resolving these challenges is the search for an environmentally and culturally appropriate architecture and urbanism.
The Architectural Association (AA) Visiting School, which provides an opportunity for visiting students, young architects, recent graduates and other creative individuals to participate in a form that emulates the school’s famed ‘unit system’ – that is, through a highly-focused short course pursuing a shared agenda of collaborative design, study, research and performance, will be holding an event at the German University of Technology, Muscat from September 10-22. In order to develop theoretical, as well as practical, contributions to their discourse, the workshop will have as its methodological focus the form and idea of the pattern – patterns are seen as a means of translating the performance, as well as the appearance of historical structures into new concepts. More information on the event after the break.
In the past, we’ve told you about the AA Visiting School, a worldwide network organized by the Architectural Association School of Architecture in collaboration with each country they visit. They have conducted events and workshops all over the world including Beijing, Madrid, San Francisco, Santiago, Sao Paulo and Singapore among others.
Some months ago, they continued with their events in Tehran, Iran and Muscat, Oman. In recent years Iran has emerged as a cultural and economic hub within the Middle East; with its illustrious history in architecture it offers a fertile ground for research and investigation into a number of topics ranging from manufacturing to urbanism. Tehran, its capital city, has become a major laboratory for contemporary cultural production in terms of architecture and has recently undergone massive changes to its infrastructure and urban boundaries to cater for expansion.
Oman has been careful and cautions in its expansion and approach to development, with recent events in the region it is now set to profit with massive increase in tourism. With the existence of a void in architectural thinking and identity in Oman it will be incredibly interesting to see how its will approach issues relating to architecture and urbanism. You can see some photos of the workshop after the break.