Facade to Facade

Facade to Facade is part of a larger ongoing project documenting the UAE's architectural heritage in public places. Artist, photographer, and graphic designer, Hussain AlMoosawi, recognizes the contemporary is, by its very nature, temporary. His effort to photograph these designs, and the trends of the eras they represent, has taken him across the UAE, Emirate to Emirate, city to city, street to street.


In recent decades the United Arab Emirates has experienced unprecedented growth. The intense pursuit of modernity, to push to the leading edge of the contemporary, grasping the “now” while reaching for “what’s next”, redefines the meaning of urban regeneration. A renewal cycle of 30-50 years in other cities is sometimes compressed to 10 years in the Emirates. Focusing on the future while honoring traditions and heritage have been the cornerstones of the UAE. In recent years a growing movement has worked to expand the view of heritage. This broader view embraces the recent past, including the architectural heritage of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Within these structures can be found work representing some of the premiere architectural firms of each era. Hussain AlMoosawi shares this expanded understanding of what defines heritage and how design impacts culture. While change is indeed inevitable, this project will help preserve the designs for future generations, strengthening the threads of an ongoing social narrative. 


By focusing tightly on the building facade, eliminating external data such as geographic and situational context, forecourt streetscapes, proximity to adjacent structures or even a horizon, the viewer instantly syncopates to the rhythms presented by the architect. The symmetry and repetition of shapes and patterns keeps the viewer cycling over the image, floor by floor, considering the meaning of any variation found. Simultaneously, we are transported to a different decade. Each facade very directly speaking to the aesthetics of its time. Even without any formal knowledge of architecture or design, the viewer can instinctively place each building by decade, such is the power of design on the individual, albeit subconsciously, upon our daily lives. When new these buildings became the focal point of the neighborhood and created a recognizable navigation point, many remain so to this day.


Text by: Brian Kerrigan