Innovation call for GCC cities

Eric Kuhne says city planners shouldn't try to copy old western models

Eric Kuhne says that modern architecture must reflect the history of the GCC.
Eric Kuhne says that modern architecture must reflect the history of the GCC.

The GCC should not copy the US and Europe when planning and designing its cities, says architect Eric Kuhne.

Speaking at a conference in Dubai, the American architect told construction professionals that new American and European cities had the wrong model, which was leading to the breakdown of social networks.

Kuhne, who is the designer of Kuwait’s City of Silk, a massive project that will include the world’s tallest tower if it is built, said that the Middle East had a rich history which should be better explored and exposed in contemporary design and architecture.

“You have to begin to see what your civilisation gives to the world, and to simply build European or US skyscrapers does nothing to speak to the genius of your own culture. It is such a shock here to (developers and governments) that anybody would care about their own culture. They are so desperate to be respected by North America and Europe – which is a complete waste of energy,” he said.

The outspoken architect also said that the industry was in a difficult position, with as many as 50% of architects leaving the profession due to the global recession. “Any economist will tell you that when any profession loses 20% of its talent it can take a decade to recover,” he said.

Kuhne argued that the problem was effecting the construction industry too, where many of the experienced pioneers and leaders were now in their 50s and 60s. He fears that the new generation are not ready to replace them.

“In five or ten years this industry will be starved of talent, starved for experience, and at a time when clients are young, inexperienced, and money has never been more naïve – never – than it is today,” he said.

“People who control the money, they’re the ones that are impatient, they’re the ones that are driving the quality out of developments. They’re the ones that are young and brash and conceited and inexperienced and don’t have a clue what it takes to build magnificent projects,” he added.

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