Abu Dhabi Art 2012: Architecture – Visionaries

The much anticipated talk Architecture – Visionaries was held during Abu Dhabi Art 2012 by  the three most celebrated architects behind the projects on Saadiyat Island: Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel and Sir Norman Foster. The panel discussion touched on four factors: creative process, history, future and social change.

Below some of the points that moved us:


Sir Norman Foster:

“You can’t escape it. You can’t move away from technology or science. In any university, the architects are anti-social because the process of design consumes them. You never stop designing and in that sense you are never satisfied. Our own practice is very close to the school of Architecture. You are always redesigning up till the last possible moment.  You might be using a computer; in the end they are all tools.”

“Tradition defies definition. It is a problem of language. When you say “x is traditional” you have to realize that “x” was modern when built. You have to have higher performance. You have to be able to build more with less. I’m suspicious of the idea that traditional is a style? What we must understand is that modernity is a continuum. The cities we enjoy the most have layers of imprint and have been built over time. The greater question is: how can you find a sense of place? It’s cultural dimension. It’s the things you can’t measure.”

“We can only hope that “building” transcends and becomes “architecture”. We hope it transcends “shelter”.”


Frank Gehry:

“Hopefully, the process never gets easier. It’s a healthy kind of insecurity. You make a move of some kind, a form, leave a mark, a choice, based on factors like limitations and that’s the scary moment. And I love it.”

“Once I came and fell in love with the region, I was trying to understand what are the priorities to build here. And I feel like I just scratched the surface.”

“Legacy? I’m 83… I worry if they are going to finish building on time for me to see it.”



DiscussionLeave a comment Category Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *