URBS AND CIVITAS IN THE PENINSULA. STUDENTS DESIGN ARCHITECTURE FOR THE CONTEMPORARY ARABIAN CITY
American University of Sharjah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
This study examines the outcomes of a long term research conducted with the students of fifth year architectural design courses at the American University of Sharjah. The aim of the research and pedagogical exercise was to propose qualitative and feasible architectural solutions through projects developed for such a complex urban context. In recent years, the sudden infrastructural and massive volumetric development of the Emirate has been extremely fast and the city now suffers of several unresolved urban issues. In the last five years Architectural Design 501 and 502 studios investigated different topics regarding different areas of Sharjah which, through its growth, has now reached the level of metropolitan conurbation merging with the other emirates of Dubai and Ajman. Students were asked to first conduct an analysis of the context and then propose design solutions for a series of architectural themes in relation to specific areas of the city. The “conflict” between the contemporary city and its heritage area, the role of public spaces in central zones and in the periphery, the development of the coastline, and the relationship between the city and its infrastructures are among the examined architectural topics. Projects developed in this line of research helped students to raise awareness of the context in which the majority of them will practice professional work. The produced work forms a coherent body of architectural research that is now available to the authorities of Sharjah for possible future implementations.