We love a landmark here in Dubai; the bigger, the taller, the brighter, the more daring, the better. Therefore it was no surprise that we were all enamoured by the Dubai Frame, a 150 metre high , 100 metre wide project that was due to cost Dhs120 million to complete and expected to entice over 2 million visitors a year to cross the walkway between the two sides of the frame. The frame itself would, of course, offer up a view of all the other landmarks and monuments the city has to offer, and was due to symbolically divide old and new Dubai. The views would be unparalleled due to the transparent materials used for the structure; you’d literally be walking on air once you got to the observation deck. You could sip a coffee in the clouds.
There is however a hitch in this plan. The architect behind the winning structure, Fernando Donis, is accusing the Municipality which originally awarded his design first place in 2009 (with a prize of Dh367,000) out of over 1,000 entries, of destroying his vision, now that the plans are due to become reality by 2015. He says of the frame due to be erected in Zabeel Park, “The project is being transformed from being non-figurative architecture to an over-scale figurative photo frame. That is, from being a modern, public monument to a postmodern pastiche.”
The original prize was linked to the 11th ThyssenKrupp Elevator Award, which is an international architecture competition which has taken place every year in a chosen city, since 1988.