Ahmed Bukhash, Archidentity, Architecture, Emirati architects, Japanese architects

Do Emirati architects need more support from the industry?

It seems that each issue of Middle East Architect that we create unintentionally focuses on architecture in a specific area of the region, as if each city takes a moment in the spotlight. With last month exploring the architectural heritage of Sharjah and the issue before that investigating the rise of female architects from Saudi Arabia, this month is no different.

During our interview with Ahmed Abdulrahman Bukhash, the Emirati architect who founded Archidentity and the current director of masterplanning at Dubai Creative Clusters Authority, Bukhash discussed the challenges facing not only architecture in Dubai but also Emirati architects.

“I think there are a lot of Emirati architects creating architecture, and I think they have been well recognised; however, I think there could be many more, and I think there could be more support from clientele to allow us to produce architecture and give us that trust,” he said.

“That would be the next stage – that would help create this new prototype that resolves various issues facing Dubai’s urban fabric. The good thing about working with Dubai Creative Clusters Authority is that you get exposed to all types of projects from various master developers, which are keen on pursuing such innovative approaches.”

The comments came as part of a larger discussion that explored the growth of architecture in Japan and the rise and outcome of Metabolism, a modernist architecture movement that occurred there. It was propelled by the idea of discarding local architectural forms and replacing them with international styles.

Eventually, international architecture approaches were reconsidered, said Bukhash, and reinterpreted within the local context. Today, Japanese architects have worked to create their own interpretation of contemporary architecture that works within their landscape and context, and each one approaches their work with a unique blend of individuality and commonalty.

“A lot of the things that the Japanese have gone through are similar to what Emiratis have gone through,” Bukhash said, adding that typologies of architecture across the different sectors have yet to be perfected in the UAE. The country is still exploring its urban identity, and its experimentation is evident in the mix of architectural styles found across the country. And in improving the architectural fabric of the country, including Emirati architects more in the development and future of the country seems an obvious solution.

“The government has given us all the tools we need in order to develop this new type of architecture, but we’re always strained on time,” said Bukhash. “No one takes the time to think about how to move forward in a new, innovative way, and to take that risk and launch a prototype that encapsulates that. In Japan, every single architect is interpreting their own culture in a new way, and each project has its own beauty in terms of converging built form with open spaces that have been reserved exclusively for the public.”