THE RIBA GULF CHAPTER
8 November 2016
by Alastair Donald
Our Architecture Programme Manager, Alastair Donald, went to Dubai for the opening of our exhibition The Open City as part of Dubai Design Week. He tells us about the exhibition, its background and the panel discussion which he chaired.
One of the highlights of Dubai Design Week in late October was the first international staging of the exhibition The Open City. Originally co-organised by the British Council and London based architecture practice Allies and Morrison, who also hosted the exhibition in June 2016, The Open City highlights the investigations and design projects that were undertaken by 20 young designers from the UK and the Gulf States who took part in a week long design residency as part of the Unlimited Doha Design Prize.
The Open City was brought to the Dubai by the RIBA Gulf Chapter which has been rapidly expanding its presence within the Gulf over the past five years. The exhibition opened with a panel discussion that took place before a packed audience at the gallery space in Dubai Design District. I chaired the panel which included Sultan Al Qassemi, co-founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation; UK based architect Alex Scott Whitby; Sumaya Dabagh, chair of the RIBA Gulf Chapter and Waseem Kotoub, head of arts and creativity for the British Council Qatar. Together, we reflected on the work undertaken in Doha and explored how it could be developed further in line with the theme 'Connectivity, Mobility and Accessibility' that has been adopted for Dubai Expo 2020.
Reflecting on the exhibition and panel discussion, Marcus Deeley, who heads up the RIBA’s international work, outlined that the exhibition and panel discussion represented a great opportunity to share the experience gained earlier in the year in Doha and to explore how the challenges uncovered there have a clear correlation with the issues being faced in Dubai. Being able display such an excellent exhibition, he said, was a great help in attracting a strong audience and to stimulating such a lively and interactive discussion.