Dubai Supersc(h)ool of architecture / The CLOUD
A school of architecture located anywhere should be attractive, interesting and probably beautiful but a school of architecture in DUBAI has to be INSPIRING, FUN AND SUPERCOOL.
Students must be inspired by this visionary city with a contemporary/future artifact (aka performative device) that takes its context into account and acknoledges it. Concepts like TALLNESS, GLOSSINESS, SIMBOLISM, HYPERLINKS, PERFORMANCE, WEATHER, IDENTITY, ACTION and MIDDLE EAST should be part of the ecuation… of even should be the ecuation itself.
Let’s make a CLOUD, an scarce and valuable feature that will hide (and seek) the personal and CREATIVE world of architecture students into a misterious and reflective material. SUPER ANISH KAPOOR.
The CLOUD has set its own rules regarding geometry and orientation because even if the exterior ambiguously reflects reality and disguises itself (like an alien device) the interior hides a MECCA pointer, we should’t forget the importance of this cosmic locator, a global urban planner for the interior.
The exterior is, indeed, designed according to a radical understanding of the sun cycle. Therefore the cloud will hide behind a double skin of mirror-like aluminum and thermal insulation facing strict SOUTH and will allow strange organisms to GROW on the other side of the cloud. Just like MOSS growing on the north face of tree trunks. Besides NORTH orientation overlooks the ARABIC GULF. SUPER COOL!.
EAST and WEST orientations are similar and just the main 2 auditoriums (cut out from the east facade, to enjoy Dubai’s unique SUNRISE) ICONICALLY distinguish themselves from the bulk of the 5 ROWS (5 GRADES) of emerging classrooms (or MUSSELS).
Everything directly related to the world of the students (where our focus is) will happen INSIDE the cloud: Cafeteria, workshops, drawing rooms, computers, labs, debate clubs, unions… The social+welfare THEATRE is performed as a continuous LOOP that will poetically connect and commute all the school activities (or, if you’re not in the loop, then you’re not.. period).
On ground floor (although looking UP…) the school will drop the rest of the functions (Dorms, Service area and Professional Practice), common Chicago-alike tall buildings tangled below the cloud’s LEGS. A mimetic version of the modern and standard old-fashioned surrounding skyscrapers. Let’s keep up with GROUND FLOOR IDENTITY!!.
And on the top, right were the cloud ends you’ll find three iconic DOMES, muslim inspired volumes that will connect and match the required, and probably more real IDENTITY of the place.
A NEW CITY DEMANDS A NEW TYPOLOGY.
1-Random-like (standard) tall buildings. The ROCKS.
The fist layer embraces familiarity as this blocks develop a dejà vù impression… just as if these 5 blocks were already there when the cloud arrived…
Materiality is an issue. Today’s facades are tomorrow’s reminders of fashion, therefore let’s take advantage of fashion and use the south sides of our 5 buildings as billboards, perfored textile skins that will cover and protect the content of the blocks also providing an always updated image to the city (the Metro, highway).
Behind this fashionable layer traditional middle east materials show up reinterpreted with contemporary means and techniques. Adobe and mud will be specifically selected and used in ventilated facades. Middle east precast concrete.
2-Glossy and reflecting THE CITY around it. The CLOUD acts as a camouflage-identity device. It covers the “standard” blocks with its misterious and natural aura. The CLOUD is specialized regarding orientation: South sun is agressive in DUBAI, therefore the reflecting aluminum layer covers and protects its precious content (knowledge and creativity). Because of the SUN,no specific objects/functions emerge from this facade.
Also it faces an extraordinary DUBAI feature: SHEIKH ZAYED road and metro that will be reflected in our cloud.
North side, though, is filled up with emerging elements such as two main ASSEMBLY HALLS and 5 levels of classrooms (from 1st grade to 5th grade). TALKATIVE ARCHITECTURE (Ledoux dixit).
3- The 3 DOME watchtowers/lighthouses perform a twofold duty, they allocate the library, Phd and DUBAI urban research+investors building and Top of the CLOUD (as extraordinary academic events space). TOP functions that belong to our SUPERSkool. Besides they accomplish an important architectural task such as defining IDENTITY. They refer to traditional muslim domes embracing history with contemporary means.
M- the classrooms must be eloquent as they preserve and share inspiration + knowledge, therefore they naturally grow like MOSS in the north face of the CLOUD providing DUBAI with formal/iconic devotion (and overlooking the ARAB GULF!!!).
A- Special events, academic conferences, final thesis design presentations & scholar symposiums deserve special spaces. The two ASSEMBLY HALLS boldly highlight in EAST facade like Melnikov’s disciples.
E- The SPIRAL. Here is were everything happens because a school of architecture belongs to students. This is their TERRITORY. As natural ascendant/descendant landscape that performs all the necessary activities & events of this talkative and extrovert sKool.
The core of this stage (like a theatre) is a dramatic void, the absence of matter as essential creator of space, of possibilities… where there is architecture, nothing else might happen. Rem Koolhaas.