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Foreign experience: how Ukrainian architects work in The Emirates Photo
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Foreign experience: how Ukrainian architects work in The Emirates

On the specifics of the Arab architecture world by Dmitry Fomenko
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For several years architect from Kharkiv Dmitry Fomenko and his office ARTE Development has been working on projects in the United Arab Emirates. Why European specialist has problems with adaptation in this country and what surprises he will face, Dmitry tells about it in our material.

At first glance, worldwide collaboration of the architect and client already has a certain standards, but as it turned out, The UAE has own views on this process.

All beauty has to be inside, not outside

For the first time I’ve visited the United Arab Emirates, more precisely, the cosmopolitan megalopolis of Dubai, a couple of years ago. It happened when one of our good friends invested in an investment project of the local developer by purchasing two villas in new district. This residential complex with its own individual infrastructure, educational institutions and trade areas had to compete with a favorite downtown in the center of the city and elite JBR.

Дмитрий ФоменкоDmitry Fomenko

In total, the village has about two hundred houses with green areas for relaxation, school, administrative center, social infrastructure. Surprisingly, all houses have the same "face" regardless of the buyer's level. All my attempts to improve the appearance of houses came to naught. It turned out that is so is unacceptable there: all beauty has to be inside, not outside. Maximum that developer accepted is the development of landscape design on 2 acres and change of color tiles around the pool.

Комплекс «Даунтаун Дубаи»Complex "Downtown Dubai"

The role of the architect is reduced to the decorator’s work

As for architectural process, replanning, which is an essential and familiar phase for us, was immediately excluded. Only the individual architectural project for the future construction makes it possible to bring to life what was conceived.

Из проекта ARTE Development, ДубаиFrom ARTE Development project, Dubai

It is also very difficult to change the location of plumbing appliances in the already built house, and transposition of the walls is science fiction. We need very good reasons and a lot of documentation to make it real, so nobody wants to do it. Therefore, the role of the architect or designer is reduced to the decorator’s work. This does not mean that the work is less important, but our usual plans electrics or plumbing, too, no one does. That does not mean that this work is less important, but nobody wants to do our usual electrics or plumbing scheme. Of course, there are exceptions, but we faced with this tendency both in private villa and the apartments in new buildings.

“Woman has the last word of choosing the style, decoration and object equipment”

As well as in Europe decorator is highly demanded for the construction of residences in The Emirates. Renovation of the color of the walls, furniture, decor and by what our team can be helpful in the limits of law is the maximum that client can accept.

"Classic" with a facilitated tendency to the "neoclassic"

Design and taste preferences in Dubai are limited by few styles. It is "classic" with a facilitated tendency to the "neoclassic". We are very similar in this predilection, I must say. No wonder that at the Milan iSaloni exhibition in pavilions with the "classics" we mostly hear Arabic and Russian speech.

Из проекта ARTE Development, ДубаиFrom ARTE Development project, Dubai

In this country Luxury style, like Armani, is not in demand, it is rather a tribute to European fashion, which can be seen on the floors of the world highest skyscraper Burj Khalifa, resembling the stalagmite by its shape and 300 meters higher  than the "competitor" from Taipei City.

Where "Golden Triangle" can be seen

For the first time in 2014, I and some of my team faced with the realities of the Arab world, which has left an indelible mark in the impressions of the region and forced us to look from a different angle on popularity of design trends, features of communication and possible business model, which is close to this particular culture.

Строительная выставка Dubai World Trade CentreBuilding Exhibition Dubai World Trade Centre

So, exploring new market, we visit the building exhibition in Dubai, which is usually held in May, and by its size it can only be compared with one of the modern pavilions iSaloni in Italy. But despite the very small presentational area, this is where representatives of so-called "Golden Triangle" meet (Saudi Arabia, Qatar and The UAE).

The nice thing is that everyone is friendly and willing to cooperate in this exhibition, like nowhere else. For example, we went to the stone exhibition in Italy once - "City of Verona," and I liked one company there, I couldn’t wangle a single catalogue from them. The attitude towards us was something like “Bloody foreigners!”.  But in The Emirates, without any problems, the same company has provided catalogs, coffee with cream, and a bag of samples. That's what Eastern hospitality does to Italians.

Из проекта ARTE Development, ДубаиFrom ARTE Development project, Dubai

All are equal In Dubai, companies with a century experience, and those who have just appeared in the market. Everyone fight equally for this tasty, but not a simple piece of the market.

Everything is different in the Arab world

I would like to immediately dispel one of the bright common myths - about the limited participation of women in making household decisions. Without going deeply into the cultural traditions and mutual relations, I can say- “Woman has the last word of choosing the style, decoration and object equipment”.

Из проекта ARTE Development, ДубаиFrom ARTE Development project, Dubai

If man comes without female support to a local exhibition, it is only because the appropriate marital status or he comes in company of his assistant to prepare for the next key visit with his wife. As a general rule, at the end of drawing up the specifications, man "is awarded" to sign it, and all the other key processes, including visits to the architectural office and meetings with experts, carried out in a purely female company.

“You may be acquainted with the Sheikh personally, and you can also be a welcome guest in his family, but it doesn’t mean that you will increase the number of your clients”

That is why successful local design studios pay more attention to "coziness" of their offices, the exposure furniture and tea ceremony that is looks like "Women's club" rather than a business process, which our clients had to face with.

From ARTE Development project, Dubai

The next myth, which Europe and most of Asia are followed by, comes with the slogan: "Personal acquaintance with the mighty of this world can open all the doors." Everything is different in the Arab world. You may be acquainted with the Sheikh personally, and you can also be a welcome guest in his family, but it doesn’t mean that you will increase the number of your clients. Most likely he will not be among them too, because there is a clear separation of personal from the business. The trustee of the family is usually involved in making such decisions, and better to keep it in mind.

Dubai is important venue for collectors and artists

Art sphere is well developed in The Emirates. Annual exhibitions and fairs ART Dubai made this city the center of the largest global events. It is important venue for collectors, artists and art professionals from around the region, as well as from other places.

Art auctions in best hotels, with the parking lot of an uncountable number of Maserati, Maclaren and the Maybach at the entrance, its model range has been presented at the last exhibition in Geneva.

Выставка ART DubaiThe ART Dubai exhibition

We have several projects in Dubai which are at the design stage now; they are conducted under our supervision since our first visit to the country. With a great desire to develop, to open new markets and to go deeply into the trends of architecture and design of the Eastern region, we try to understand them, and they need our fresh ideas, our taste and our experience.

Photo: Mikhail Vorobiev, news.artnet.com, termolife.com.ua, orbitnetwork.ru

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