The Palm Jumeirah, the artificial island development in Dubai, claims it has three times the innovation, three times the ingenuity, and three times the ambition.
An ambitious engineering feat yes, but the Palm Jumeirah shows me nothing more the deep wallets and the pursuit of an illogical legacy for its developers. I can’t even fathom the financial backing available in this area. The potential for groundbreaking innovation in sustainable development is endless. The desert/ocean ecosystem it was placed on appears ideal for potential capture of solar, hydro, and wind power, possibly capable of meeting all power needs using alternative energy sources, becoming a datum for further sustainable desert development.
This however isn’t the case. Empty streets lined with the 2nd and 3rd homes of their prestigious owners lack people, landscape, and a sense of place. The only prominent feature is the form of the man-made island, the palm, a form only experienced by angels and aviators. A species which has ties with middle-eastern culture dating back thousands of years was significant enough to model a plan around but scarcely planted throughout the project.
Unfortunately, instead of money going into sustainable energy technologies it’s pumped into the constant struggle to maintain its form against natural beach erosion and surf zone currents which continuously morph coastal geography.
Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Engineering created the island. All professions are typically serviced based and owe their livelihood to fees from such projects (which had to of been astronomical) and the clientele they keep.
As with Landscape Architecture, one of the professions’ principles is that its practitioners are to be stewards of the land. A concept since forgotten as sources of income for Landscape Architects became available for “shrubbing up” cookie cutter retail centers and model home developments across the U.S. But when we’re dependant on often misguided clients to fill our payrolls how can we steer them in the right direction why’ll still maintaining the relationship?
There are firms in the much earned and fortunate position of choosing clients that allow broad design freedom and pursue new avenues of innovation. But what of the vast majority, what can be done to instill and educate the benefits to our clients of better land stewardship? With this kind of intervention between professional and client, Palm Jumeirah could of been different, it could of been something other then a phenomenal engineering feat, it could of been better, IMHO.