Home-grown remedy

Architecture is about building communities. Whether we're referring to communities of individuals interacting with one another in social spaces or communities of buildings collected within a larger masterplan, architecture is only as good as the community it serves.

COMMENT, Design
COMMENT, Design
COMMENT, Design

Architecture is about building communities. Whether we're referring to communities of individuals interacting with one another in social spaces or communities of buildings collected within a larger masterplan, architecture is only as good as the community it serves.

With that firmly in mind, and as the editor of the region's only magazine willing to analyse, eulogize or criticise architecture for its historical and cultural merit, I have been negligent in my duties.

From its inception, the Middle East Architect team has strived to cover those projects that are on the cutting edge of architectural and structural design. We've pushed, cajoled and insisted on exclusive rights to cover the region's biggest and shiniest iconic architecture. In doing so, however, we've severely neglected part of the very community we are meant to serve.

In our attempts to reach the most influential architects, we've succeeding in neglecting and alienating the multitude of talented local architects. In our pages, low-rise traditional architecture has too often been overshadowed by super-communities, mile-high towers and massive masterplans. The genius of the vernacular has all too often given way to the imaginations of the world's starchitects.

Our singular focus on that which is big, shiny, bendy, twisty or 'conic' stops here and now. While those projects are certainly exciting and their contribution to the world of architecture significant, a magazine full of them doesn't completely fulfil its mandate or fully serve its community.

I am delighted to announce that from the June 2008 issue, we have added a Local Architect Profile in which we'll interview a regional architect practicing a contemporary version of Islamic architecture. Moreover, our last page, entitled Spectacular Vernacular, will celebrate the vibrancy and simplicity of traditional forms.

Dr. Samia Rab, associate professor of architecture and heritage management at the American University of Sharjah wrote: "Rapidly modernising cities grow at the expense of the past, which makes conservation an afterthought instead of an integral component in the development process."

The hope is that these new sections will increase the depth of our coverage and the breadth of our community, and ultimately, help us conserve what we can while we can.

Jeffrey Roberts is the editor of Middle East Architect.

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