DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — The United Arab Emirates is generally known as the home of some major architectural designs, incorporating ideas of modernism and futuristic architecture from around the world, but it still brings to mind many buildings. Its past is part of the fabric of its urban landscape.
In a unique exhibition in the capital Abu Dhabi celebrating the cultural impact of air conditioning in the UAE for more than 50 years, Emirati photographer Hussain Al Moussawi offers a fresh perspective highlighting the diversity of the country’s urban architectural scene.
This colorful series highlights the architectural beauty of buildings decorated with “split” system air conditioning units, as it is an important factor for the exterior of the building.
Window air conditioning units extend from the outside like boxes, adding a nice geometric touch due to the air vents and their subtle details.
Mousawi told CNN in Arabic that the series, which sheds light on the country’s many industrial facades, “is a transitional work between documenting semi-temporary urban elements like building walls and more permanent ones like residential and commercial buildings.”
Since returning to the UAE in 2013, Al Mousavi has sought to create his own concept of local urban identity by returning to the traditional landscape before documenting contemporary architecture, he said.
The Emirati photographer believes that this project, which he completed between 2017 and 2016, contributed to his perception of the UAE’s urban identity.
Al-Moussawi indicated that his preference for documenting buildings with “split” units was due to his skill in documenting forms, the reason being purely visual, noting that its geometric form with circles and grid lines in particular has an aesthetic character. Compared to “window air conditioners”.
With the project’s launch, Al-Moussawi found himself with a “green” identity in industrial areas, and buildings with bright colors or graphics not commonly found in residential areas, compared to buildings with “soft” facades, which many prefer. Compromise their identity.
Al-Moussawi pointed out that all his photographs are taken at right angles, which destroys all aspects of the “view,” which photographers usually use to show the building in an unusual way, explaining that he was trying to document the facade. It does not require any kind of optical deception to highlight its aesthetic features.
Al-Moussawi aims to track the architectural identity in the country by documenting all types of facades, old and new.
The Emirati photographer explained that there is no unified architectural style in the country, but rather different styles representing cultural pluralism mixed with local identity.
By creating a semi-detailed system, Al-Musawi seeks to understand the various elements that have shaped the Emirati architectural identity.
“It’s a long-term and geographically wide project. Once it’s done, I’m trying to add to our knowledge by presenting all these buildings on a template so we can compare them to each other,” noted the Emirati photographer.
Although the series is considered Al-Moussawi’s mid-century work, “50 Years of Refrigeration” had a positive response among visitors to the exhibition, as he received requests for prints of these images.
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