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Architecture in the UAE has come a long way. From building camel skin tents to designing buildings with unique wind towers to ward off the harsh summers and now home to the world's tallest building – the country has been at the forefront of many construction marvels.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are known for adventurous and awe-inspiring skyscrapers, a trend that started in the late 1990s. Emirates NBD Bank Tower in Deira, Emirates Towers on Shaikh Zayed Road and Burj Al Arab were architectural landmarks that symbolized the opulence and growing economic might of the UAE.
But there has been a rapid evolution of building styles in the past 20 years. ''We have moved from a 'look at me' kind of buildings to more environmentally responsive and sensitive structures that enrich the urban environment,'' says Steven Velegrinis, Director of Urban Design, Perkins+Wills.
Two of the best examples are the Citywalk near Jumeirah and The Beach at Jumeirah Beach Residence. Citywalk has a low-rise setting lined with retail and eating joints along a public promenade. Similarly, The Beach along the Dubai Marina is also a set of low-rise developments with retail outlets and eating joints interconnected with a public esplanade. Experts predict the trend of building skyscrapers to dominate the UAE skyline will continue with a few exceptions like the low-rise developments of Citywalk Residences and Dubai Hills.
Architects in the UAE are now focusing more on functionality while incorporating elements of Arabic architecture in the buildings. Many of the buildings have kept their date with traditional Arabic architecture through the use of courtyard housing patterns. Masdar City in Abu Dhabi is the best example. It has drawn inspiration from the old Arabic construction design in terms of spaces between the homes in the traditional neighborhood system.
In the next few years, several iconic architectural structures will come up in the UAE, including the Dubai Frame at Zabeel Park, Dubai Opera House at Downtown Dubai and Louvre Abu Dhabi on Sadiyaat Island.
• Environment-friendly building designs are now becoming popular in the UAE
• Experts predict skyscrapers will continue to dominate the country's skyline
• Opera House and Louvre Abu Dhabi are upcoming architectural landmarks
Read more about Dubai building blocks to be a themed destination
Source: S. Dhar, Special to Properties
The writer is a freelancer