International Competitions in Architecture
THE HOUSE OF WATER - ABU DHABI
What is more important...?
Water, or oil...?
Until recently oil would have never been considered one of the "elements...!"
But even a poet, Joseph Brodsky, stated that there are five elements: fire, water, earth, air and money, and not necessarily in this order.
And oil does mean money.
A lot of money.
And Abu Dhabi would agree.
Yet, we are still tempted to believe that water is more important! And if it is true that in 1760 "the Baniyas Tribe finds fresh water on the island of Abu Dhabi and decides to settle there," as the CEMC (www.cemc.ae) report tells us, then it would be hard not to consider this year as the point in time when the important city of Abu Dhabi came into being. In other words, this city will celebrate this year 250 years since its inception. It will also celebrate (if those who do not believe in progress would allow it) approximately 50 years since the first paved road in Abu Dhabi was constructed.
But to return to water... we think it is important to reflect, seriously and sensitively, on its meaning and function and to honor it on this very year when, 250 years ago, fresh water was found on the island of Abu Dhabi, generating, thus, its birth as a historically founded place. We invite you to imagine a commemorative structure ( or something else - a garden, for example?) that celebrates not only this historical fact, but also and mainly even, WATER!
We can think of water in many ways, in its relationship with architecture and human life in general. From the fountains of Rome, to the Taoist philosophy, from the Sufi tradition to The Fallingwater, from that fantastic project by Ledoux in Chaux to Luis Barragan, from Alhambra's delicate streams of water to Carlo Scarpa in his Brion Cemetery, from a Zen garden (or poem) to The First Underwater Opera in Oslo (unrealized project)... WATER IS! - to express ourselves in the quasi mystical way Louis Kahn did, when he wrote: ORDER IS (in response to: what is order?)
Yes, WATER IS.
Build for WATER!
A single (or a group of) fountain(s), a channel (or a system of channels) for a stream of water, a garden or a park, or, more courageously and emphatically, a building! Be as innovative and creative as possible!
Remind Abu Dhabi, and ourselves, that, to express ourselves in biblical terms, AT THE BEGINNING WAS WATER!
Let's celebrate the founding of Abu Dhabi, on the occasion of its 250th birthday, with a great symphonic work dedicated to WATER, and thus music, and dance and poetry and ultimately, perhaps, "the feminine principle," which only in the most inspired architecture manifests itself convincingly: l'esprit de finesse and l'esprit de geometry, in conjunction, to use the well known words of Pascal. Try to create an architecture that will attempt to express the mythical power of water, in the context of the Arab world, and the specific historicity of Abu Dhabi. Try to marry, architecturally, what is called myth with what is called reality, around the generic function of water, in the context (temporal and spatial) of this city.
Build THE HOUSE OF WATER. For Abu Dhabi and beyond.
And, with our incurable optimism, we like to imagine that the very rich city of Abu Dhabi will build it! Please contemplate the map of Abu Dhabi and choose a location for your project. Be as imaginative as possible, but also anchor your project in a specific location within the city, so this project would truly function as a commemorative architecture celebrating 25O years of historical existence, which started, if we understood correctly (and this was the case with many other cities) with WATER!
Please remember: we want this structure to be built and we hope it will be built, if we persuade the city of Abu Dhabi that it would be a significant and meaningful way to celebrate its historical birth.