Dubai/ Transformation of Village housing I : Cluster vs Segregation (1995 – 2005)
Time frame: Post-discovery of oil (1995 -2005)
The housing design of Dubai has drastically changed over the period between 1995 – 2005. The city of Dubai exist in a constant state of flux as the city is seemingly in a constant state of becoming. Since the 1970s the pace and tempo of Dubai urbanism has skyrocketed due to the rapid economic growth in consequence of the discovery of oil. The sudden oil wealth had, inevitably, created an influx of immigrant workers because of the need for major engineering projects. While the citizens of Dubai can benefit from the job creation of the construction works, there will also likely be continued reliance on an expatriate labour force to support economic growth. This results in imbalance between citizen and expatriate populations. Projections has shown that the total population in the UAE will increase from approximately 9 million in 2014 to 11.5 million in 2017; meaning the overall percentage of expatriates increases along time. The demographic trends highlighted the main challenge and hypothesis of the articles that “In What Style should Dubai Housing Be Built?” Should residential architecture in Dubai respond to the citizens who form part of a shrinking minority or to the expatriate population comprising the majority?
Traditional residential communities in Dubai were based on tribal systems that governed both nomadic and settled communities. In most cases these tribes belonged to larger groups represented by the sheikhdoms of the Al Maktoums in Dubai. The Al Bastakiya village, for instance, situated along the Dubai Creek, is on the oldest residential area in Dubai. It was constructed back in 1690s and consisted of 60 housing units in its prime time which were majority owned by rich Persian merchants. The village was designed in clusters with narrow lanes and wind towers separating the houses. The traditional housing was changed when oil was discovered in the region and most of families moved to the new and modern city of Dubai. The Al Bastakiya village was destroyed to make way for the development of a new office complex. A new style of living was introduced upon the demolition of the traditional village and the Jumeirah Village circle is a modern example of village living in Dubai.
The Jumeirah Village is a coastal residential main comprising low rise private dwellings. There is a collection of more than 2,000 villas and townhouses built in class Arabian and Mediterranean styles. Under the influence of international architectural style, the layout of the village no longer designed in clusters but segregated low-rise housing. Artificial communal facilities like parks, lakes, schools and community centres are built within the village creating a “city within a village”. The area is popular with expatriates rather than locals and it also form the major population in the current day Dubai. This thus explains the shift in the architectural style as architecture should respond to and serve all. Since the heterogeneous population has enriched, it presupposes the tendency to universalizing architectural style. Yet, it manifested concerns about the weakening of the national identity of Dubai with accusations that modern architecture in Dubai are built on a tabula rasa.
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