American University in Dubai, Architecture, AUD, Design award, IDA Awards, Los Angeles, Somayeh Ghorbani, UAE, UAE maritime heritage. UAE heritage

AUD graduate’s design concept to revive the UAE’s maritime heritage wins IDA Award

American University of Dubai (AUD) graduate Somayeh Ghorbani has been awarded an architectural prize in the Gold category at the 10th annual IDA Design Awards held in Los Angeles, for her design of a cultural heritage center for the United Arab Emirates.

Ghorbani has designed a maritime museum in the heart of Dubai Creek in Dubai’s Fish Market district.

Alongside the museum, Ghorbani has proposed fishing and diving centres, educational crafting centers and seafood restaurants, as well as a customs space for incoming vessels.

These programs are connected to one other by bridge crossing the central fish market, allowing visitors to feel connected to the market as they move from one program to another.

“Today’s young generations of the UAE have lost their interest in traditional fishing, diving and old ways of boat building. These are the traditional professions of the UAE that are now nearly lost. Moreover, the current fish markets in the UAE are losing their appeal and authenticity by moving the market to large supermarkets. This leads young generation to be disconnected from their own heritage,” Ghorbani explained.

The bridges are elevated so that the visitors can experience the ambiance of the fish market not only from a horizontal level but also from a vertical viewpoint, she said.

In order to take the people back to the sea, the sea itself is used as a focal part of the design, surrounding the market. This conveys a sense of unity with the traditional Fish markets of the past that were located at the shores of the Creek.

The fish market and Dubai customs are placed at the sea level in order to facilitate control of sea traffic and to recreate the ambiance of the old Dubai fish markets where fishermen and divers used to work along the port, she explained.

The project is proposed to be constructed using three types of structures: columns, space frame and truss bridges.

“Because the project is elevated and structural wise, it requires the use of light materials. Therefore, an engineered wood material has been selected for all exterior and interior walls, roofs, and ceilings fabrications,” Ghorbani said.

“Additionally, wood fabrication also represents the cultural heritage of the region by referencing the traditional wooden dhows, which use to cross the sea and Dubai creek,” she said.