Harvey Molotch, Davide Ponzini and Michele Nastasi

'Learning from Gulf Cities' is the culmination of a long-term collaboration between university professors and scholars Harvey Molotch (New York University) and Davide Ponzini (Politecnico di Milano), with architectural photographer and urban studies scholar, Michele Nastasi.

In their dual roles as receivers and transmitters of contemporary urban trends, cities like Dubai, Doha, and Abu Dhabi increasingly influence the shape of places beyond the Gulf region. This exhibition challenges depictions of Gulf cities as insular, insubstantial or merely flamboyant imitators, and instead portrays them as both originating, as well as reflecting, what is happening in the wider urban world. Sometimes in magnified, and thus potentially useful ways, Gulf cities display the workings of those larger trends, as in global mass tourism and mega-development initiatives. Gulf cities also show their "starchitecture" projects, aspects of which design travel across the worlds of design and commerce.

Michele Nastasi’s photography critically investigates and interprets urbanisation within the Gulf and beyond. His work illustrates the transference of similar urban modeling from one region to another, a process that is often flawed or incomplete. Nastasi’s images reveal to us how local context alters the nature of an architectural design project, however “global” the architect or international the funding source. Besides photographs, the exhibition also uses maps and other types of graphics to compare Gulf projects and places with their counterparts in Asia, Europe and the USA.

image Michele Nastasi. Doha, 2017, Skyline View Point / Courtesy of the artist.

image Michele Nastasi. Dubai, 2015, View from Al Satwa / Courtesy of the artist.

image Michele Nastasi. Kuwait City, 2017, Al Shaheed Park (detail) / Courtesy of the artist.

Photo exhibition 'Learning from Gulf Cities' is on view until December 6, 2017 at The Project Space, NYU Abu Dhabi (inside the Arts Center).

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