The Etihad Museum: an architectural walkthrough

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Over the weekend, I went to the Etihad Museum located along Jumeirah street in Dubai. It was a bit out of the way from my apartment– I had to ride the metro, walk to a bus stop, and figure out how to board the right vehicle. Had this been in New York, I would have just walked the entire way through, but with the heat coming into full swing over the summer, that would have practically killed me. Regardless, mass transportation is one of the things I enjoy most about developed cities. Figuring everything out, asking locals for directions, and observing building profiles from high-speed vehicles– I don’t get to do any of this in my own country.

Off to the building lobby I went, where a tour group composed of various expats awaited the local guides. After purchasing student tickets, I proceeded to the central hall where a lovely Arab local volunteer (whose name I didn’t catch!) had appeared. He would be touring us to comply with his company’s chosen value for the year: generosity. Out of respect, I didn’t include his face in any of my photos.

He began the tour with this basic question: what did the Etihad museum resemble when viewed from the outside? I thought of the slanted glass panes, the curving roof panels, and only the name of the late Zaha Hadid surfaced in my mind. Still, it couldn’t have been her; I’d surely have known had that been the case.

The guide held a piece of paper between his index finger and thumb. He pinched its two edges together and let the rest of the paper form a loop, such that no crease appeared on the sheet.

‘If you noticed the shape of the museum, it looks something like this!’

(At this point, I was like ‘????’)

After a minute, I kind of grasped what he was talking about. No, the building wasn’t exactly a loop; it rather resembled a cracked eggshell. Visually, it was something you could easily explain to the public and have fun with. Anything more straightforward might’ve been tacky, and very much Beijing if you asked me. (Not that I dislike Beijing! I just noticed how modern Chinese architecture is so literal. To apply this aesthetic to any other part of the world is iffy at best).

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I wasn’t really able to take a photo of the entire building exterior, but have a look at this distorted angle.

The museum is actually underground, and the building visible from outside is just the entrance lobby. I liked the programming of the spaces, as you can imagine yourself standing over some kind of underground city when you enter.

Continue reading “The Etihad Museum: an architectural walkthrough”

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Dubai: Images of a City

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Hey folks! I have too many moments in life wherein I feel poetic and excited about compositions forming in my mind (how they’re supposed to be narrated, which words to use, etc). I get down to writing them, and end up with two amazing paragraphs. Then, I get lazy about the rest.

I’m mostly sorry to myself for being either too busy or just not disciplined enough to actually sit down and write things. I guess that’s why I have a million drafts, and not one published composition.

Still, I enjoy discussion! A lot of times, writing chill posts like this is less stressful and more fulfilling than those long, dramatic essays anyway. (I WILL PUBLISH ONE SOMEDAY!). They’re also much clearer in terms of intent, so here goes:

I’ve been living in Dubai for the past couple of weeks. It’s a truly glamorous and unique city, not just in terms of local customs but also with regards to the collective attitude of the people. I’ve collected some personal insights about its architecture and culture, but that can wait. Tonight’s post will revolve around a couple of images I’ve taken during my travels.

These depict various scenes in the city at street level– how the people interact with the architecture, and what it feels like to be in this place. Didn’t really edit anything because I’m too lazy. Regardless, it’s almost impossible to take bad photos in Dubai, as all of its buildings are simply stunning.

5PM.
5PM. People begin to gather around a set of fountains in the Dubai Mall. Everyone is expectant.
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The view from a boat ride going to the Creek Harbor. The surrounding buildings mesh so well with the body of water.
7PM. The crowd has grown exponentially and is enjoying the dancing fountains. Dubai looks pretty at night.
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Pale building on a pale sky.
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One of my favorite photos. This was taken in a gold souq, where narrow corridors led to this central space. Doesn’t seem as ‘fake’ or constructed as the rest of Dubai’s architecture, and the sun hits those mashrabiya screens perfectly.
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Those columns just look great with people, don’t they? I’m not really sure why.
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Sunset, the prettiest time of the day. You won’t see it here, but the sun is quite an intense red. The buildings are also twice as pretty. Dubai may be unbearably hot, but sometimes I feel like the sunset makes everything worth it.

In a couple of hours, I will be going to the Etihad museum and meeting a few locals! I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did!

-B

Cruising

Sometimes, before I look outside the window, I forget about my house being mounted on solid, unmovable earth. Through the jelly legs that I stand on, I can feel the rhythmic humming of the ocean; each imaginary wave crashing into my slippers. I’d remember, suddenly and with stark certainty, that the view from my bedroom will never change—not in the way I’d momentarily assumed it would. Such realities, unremarkable they may be, pave the way for one to get used to the world again after having lived in the middle of the ocean for a week or so.

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The Mariner from a distance

Twenty-four hours ago, I was in the airport, trying to get as much sleep as I could before my next flight. Twenty-four hours before that, I was in a cruise ship—the Royal Caribbean, Mariner of the Seas. A huge one, undeniably. Life in a boat is as fun as you’d expect it to be. You climb in, get to feel a bit more pampered and luxurious than usual, then tour exotic islands when you disembark. It’s like a tiny village or city, or nation—whatever—floating in the sea, existing idly by. Continue reading “Cruising”