Architecture can lift spirits when buildings soar above the stars, so follow local artist and architecture enthusiast Angelika Hamilton on her search for inspiration along the capital’s skyline.
Abu Dhabi is a city of celebrity architecture. Norman Foster's World Trade Center souk immerses you in the spirit of the old market on whose site it sits. The fluid curves of the Zaha Hadid-designed Sheikh Zayed bridge welcomes visitors as you cross from the mainland to Abu Dhabi Island where shafts of light rain down the Louvre Abu Dhabi designed by Jean Nouvel – with celebrity architects like that make sure you have your camera ready!
Abu Dhabi’s awe-inspiring architecture is already on major tourist trails and offers fantastic photo opps, from the first round sky scraper in the Middle East (Aldar HQ), the world’s furthest leaning building (Andaz Capital Gate), to the innovative honeycomb façade of Al Bahar towers. However, a bit of a hidden secret to most visitors are the examples of amazing modernist and post-modernist buildings dotted throughout the city. Once regarded as a niche interest, the concrete structures built in the 70s and the 80s have a dedicated following and are once again appreciated for the innovative ways the buildings broke architectural conventions. Abu Dhabi’s main bus terminal (BulgarConsult) and vegetable market and sports stadium (Henri Colbec) are prominent icons of modernism – all signs of the forward thinking in the post oil building boom that created a modern Arab capital. The leap is most pronounced in the Cultural Foundation designed by Walter Gropius’s Architects Collaborative (1980) that sits next to the city’s historic fort, Qasr al Hosn. From the 18th century nucleus of the city to Bauhaus - it is literally only a matter of steps.
When I walk the streets of downtown Abu Dhabi, I have my lens constantly focused on the patterns, protruding angles, weaving façades, and how the people made the buildings their own – the modest next to the glitzy. The shop names reveal the origins of the shopkeepers as well as the ambition they brought to their new city, and the craftsmen bringing their traditions from different countries. The way life spills out on the streets, the passages between blocks lined with carpets and chairs awaiting guests for a long communal evening.
To experience this side of Abu Dhabi—where real life exists, spill out into the evening's bustling city streets on foot with an open mind and see my Abu Dhabi.
Turn Your Lens on Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi has many photogenic highlights, but before you turn your lens on the capital be mindful of the strict local laws surrounding photography. Observe no photography signs around you, particularly around government buildings and palaces. The UAE has stringent laws in place with regard to respecting privacy, so please don’t take pictures of people or their possessions without their consent.
Published on March 2019