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Exploring the Resurgence of Tradition and Sustainability in Dubai

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Dubai is poised to host Dubai Design Week at Dubai Design District (D3) from November 7 to 12, featuring large-scale outdoor installations that highlight the convergence of design, science, and technology to rediscover materials of the past. This year’s program emphasizes sustainable practices, offering immersive public interventions created from unconventional materials like palm leaves, loofah, sugar, and paper pulp, with a forefront of 3-D printed architecture.

Under the patronage of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and member of the Dubai Council, in partnership with Dubai Design District, a member of TECOM Group, the event promises a diverse array of experiences. Here, we delve into some of the distinctive installations and their underlying concepts.

Architects Wael Al Awar and Kazuma Yamao from the Dubai and Tokyo-based studio waiwai will showcase “Urban Hadeera.” The Hadeera is a recognizable structure from the UAE’s vernacular architecture, and this prototype demonstrates its relevance in contemporary urban settings. They envision the Hadeera as an open structure, providing shelter from the elements, preserving fires lit in the desert, and constructed from sustainable, salt-based building materials. By adapting traditional architectural elements, the architects aim to address pressing issues like the climate crisis and inspire a fresh perspective on modern living.

Areen Hassan, a Palestinian artist and designer based in Dubai, offers her installation, “Flowing Threads.” Her work explores Islamic art as a dynamic, lived experience that extends beyond mere visuals. “Flowing Threads” utilizes textiles to symbolize transparency, flexibility, and functionality. The meticulous handcrafted technique unveils layers, emphasizing design functionality while preserving the distinct qualities of thread and color. The installation’s threads follow the wind’s flow, creating a dynamic interplay between lightness, fabric color, and the surrounding architectural elements, making it a living reflection of Dubai’s identity.

Kapil Bhimekar, Creative Director at Leo Burnett Mena, presents “Reality Check.” His work probes the evolving concept of reality in a world filled with virtual experiences and artificial intelligence. “Reality Check” is a supersize inflatable installation that encourages people to interact, connect, and savor authentic, human-to-human moments. In an age of hyper-real simulations, it serves as a reminder of the irreplaceable authenticity of physical experiences.

“Repurposing waste through ‘Pulp Fractions'” is an innovative installation by Tarlan Vaziri Farahani, Founder and Architect at TeeVeeEff, and Rima Chalha, Lead Interior Designer at TeeVeeEff. Their project, in collaboration with Union Paper Mills, tackles the issue of discarded paper and cardboard packaging, which contributes to landfills due to increased consumption and deliveries. Pulp Fractions repurposes these materials, transforming them into liquid slurry or “pulp,” which is cast, pressed, dried, and trimmed into stackable volumes. These units or “fractions” can be arranged infinitely, serving various purposes while reducing waste.