Alserkal Avenue, Concrete, Damascus archaeology, Design, Dubai, Dubai architecture, OMA, OMA Dubai, Projects that didn't happen for OMA, Rem Koolhaas, Syria, Unrealised architecture

Koolhaas reveals projects which never made it off the ground

Projects which could have transformed Dubai and Damascus but have been left on the drawing-board were outlined by architect Rem Koolhaas during a lecture outside OMA’s first completed project in Dubai, Concrete. 

One was an entrance and exit to and from what the Dutch designer called “an Alice in Wonderland pop art” experience.

This would have taken the form of a strip of land just outside current Dubai with a huge variety of forms and shapes which would be entered through a large doorway -part real and part virtual- forming a new tourist attraction for the city.

Another project he outlined would have formed a new waterfront for the city, but was brought to a halt by the global financial crash of 2008.

When first revealed the development was lauded as a “Grand Urban Experiment” by the New York Times.

“The idea was to create a new metropolitan area out of nothing,” Koolhaas said. He explained that the buildings would include towers but also some unusual shapes. One of these was a sphere and another a folded loop-form which he described as “possibly my favourite”.

The looped form was inspired by the traditional architectural shapes used in the city, and literally ‘looped’ to create more complicated forms.

To show that height is not everything for structures, another would be formed around a hole in the ground.

Another abortive project in the Middle East from Koolhaas and his studio OMA was a museum which was intended to showcase the millennia-old treasures of Damascus.

He said these were displayed in a rather haphazard manner but in a way that was “real and fresh”.

The idea was to build a series of cubes which would showcase the items under a roof which was held up by mushroom style stalks. However the war in Syria brought an end to the project.

“It is a huge tragedy that a promising moment turned into a nightmare,” said Koolhaas.