Terminal City
Dubai, 2006

BIDOUN Magazine


Makram el Kadi, Ziad Jamaleddine, Naji Moujaes

Modern Dubai is littered with architectural monuments that can be labeled as Superlative Architecture: an architecture that breeds on the next big thing, on the shock of the new by comparison to, and referential scale with what has just become old. 

In Dubai everything will soon be outdone, a taller, bigger and larger structure will quickly be erected. What is here today is almost immediately to be irrelevant, insignificant, not worth mentioning tomorrow. With Superlative Architecture, ‘what if?’, a present state of possibility, is replaced by ‘now what?’, an afterward state of wonder in doubt. There is no more aspiration, no more imagination. 

With more than 80% of its inhabitants non-nationals, Dubai is a displaced emirate, a metropolis catering to the global network of business and entertainment. Nobody is from Dubai, everyone is. 

Terminal City structure is shaped by the overlapping geometry of the airplanes trajectories from Dubai to the rest of the world (using the Emirates Airlines as model). Our proposal, Terminal City , collapses the “city” experience into one building. There is no more city fabric, no more blocks, no more street, no more lots, no more center, and consequently no more suburban spread and peripheries. This new city , caught vertically between two airport terminals, is the last structure that modern Dubai will ever need. Based on Dubai’s business and demographic models (catering to less then 20% Nationals), it is a transient city wedged between constant arrivals and departures; with airports on the roof and the ground the city becomes groundless, non-contextual, and a continuous duty-free experience, capitalism at its best, or worst. 

Once checking out of the terminal, one can only be on the way to checking in again, i.e. on the way out. In between, a vertical city stretches, with all living working and entertainment amenities a city holds. Terminal city even has a cemetery, which, located at the center of the structure, is the furthest point away from any gates. 

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