Fusing old and new in urban design

Modern design can co-exist with traditional architecture in Dubai according to one of the UAE’s leading voices when it comes to masterplanning.

Ahmad Abdulrahman Bukhash is the man behind projects such as the Dubai Design District, which he was responsible for reviewing and regulating.

He combines the role of director of urban planning at the Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA), along with membershi of the Dubai Advisory Committee for the Architectural Program Development at the American University of Dubai.

Bukhash is also chief architect and founder of Archidentity a company which fuses tradition and modernism.

He said: “Dubai is like a bubble city, where each micro-city has its own theme. However, the emirate is also developing its own specific style, which is a unique combination of a modern, futuristic design and a local, traditional one.

“Modern and traditional ideas can coexist in architecture.”

He said the growing integration of local traditional building features has two main purposes – first, it responds to the needs of the Emirati population and its lifestyle.

“New mixed use communities introduced by the government, semi-government institutions and private developers are the archetype of a stronger attention paid to the requirements of the local residents, with higher building efficiency and minimalist design approaches,” said Bukhash.

“Although as Emiratis we enjoy a contemporary and modern design, we still treasure our traditional lifestyle. This reflects for example into our preference for balconies that look towards courtyards rather than on the main roads; a concept that is being integrated in a number of private developments, and is now trickling into new master developments as well.”

Also he said traditional building features offer effective solutions to the issue of energy saving and environmental sustainability: “Traditional architecture incorporated passive cooling systems that took advantage of renewable energy sources to provide cooling and ventilation to the buildings. They also offered protection from the heat.

“The ancient courtyard concept provided an external solar barrier that granted natural lighting. These traditional building solutions can be developed and applied to any type of project, be it residential or commercial.

“Clients today are more and more aware of these options and increasingly request consultants to incorporate traditional systems in new building developments. Tradition is offering excellent solutions to current sustainability issues.”

As a member of the Gaia Awards judging panel, Bukhash will be selecting this year’s Gaia Awards winners, at The Big 5 2016.