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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Dutch architect’s high praise for local design

Dutchman Rem Koolhaas, 70, renowned for his work on the CCTV building in Beijing and the Prada building in New York, addressed a packed auditorium at the American University of Sharjah on Tuesday.
Rem Koolhaas says the lines between architecture, design and art have blurred in recent years. Domenico Stinellis / AP Photo
Rem Koolhaas says the lines between architecture, design and art have blurred in recent years. Domenico Stinellis / AP Photo

SHARJAH // A respected European architect has praised Dubai for the sophistication of its recent developments.

Dutchman Rem Koolhaas, 70, renowned for his work on the CCTV building in Beijing and the Prada building in New York, addressed a packed auditorium at the American University of Sharjah on Tuesday.

His speech drew a large crowd of students, faculty and members of the public.

“Dubai has escaped from its architectural caricatures,” Mr Koolhaas said.

“There’s a great evidence of sophistication and an emergence of local architects that recognise authenticity,” he said.

Mr Koolhaas had a positive outlook on the region despite recent upheaval and said that it provided the opportunity for the dawn of something new.

He also praised the involvement of the country’s rulers and the freedom they have given to designers to transform the landscape of the region.

Clement Vincent, a professor of design at the American University of Sharjah, said: “The lecture was informative. I admired how Koolhaas created open spaces and passages in his landmarks that the general public can enjoy without having the need to pay. His designs are inclusive, as we have seen in China and Taipei.”

Saudi student Arwa Al Nasser, 25, is in her final year of studying architecture.

“Rem Koolhaas came up a lot in our studies, so it’s really wonderful for us to hear from him personally,” she said.

She said she was inspired by Mr Koolhaas’s words when he declared that there “is no right or wrong in architecture”.

“Everyone carves their own style and essence in their designs. I can’t wait to start my own,” she said.

Mr Koolhaas is also responsible for the Casa da Musica in Porto, Portugal, the Maison a Bordeaux in France, and the embassy of the Netherlands in Berlin.

He is also the author of several books, including Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan, and S, M, L, XL.

Mr Koolhaas was the director of Fundamentals, the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale.

nalremeithi@thenational.ae

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