VOL: 10 NO: 1  128-137  2013-1


Urban metamorphosis and Islamic Architecture in the time of globalization: Utopian realities and challenges




Fulbrigh Scholar, Architect, Tunis, TUNISIA


Received: August 2012             Final Acceptance: April 2013






Over the past few years, the Arab world has seen a great shift from non-urbanized deserted lands into intensively urbanized cities. Technology was a powerful tool, and it became used excessively to design highly complex designs, and to “manufacture” the image of millennium cities such as Dubai. Those ‘cities bubbles’ are being inserted into a global system, driven by capitalistic powers. Nowadays, there is less inspiration from hidden roots and complex systems of articulation of the Islamic/Arabic architectural pattern and model. There is an urging need to establish a critical thinking vis-a-vis the excessive consumed built environment, system of values, and the lack of creativity. As globalization is becoming a standard of life, a different exploration of today’s ideologies is needed, and thoughtful inspirations are to be brought to the table. Our need for this study is also related to the lack of knowledge in this field, and more specifically within Muslim thinkers, city planners and designers. Architects and researchers on Middle East have been discussing the issue of urban fantasies and the utopian visions in Arab countries. They also detailed urban ills and the loss of environmental, cultural and functional aspects, as well as the issues of cultural identity.

Achieving modernity in our globalized world is a real challenge which might not always succeed.
An interesting focus for our research can include studies of the metamorphosis of excessively globalized cities in the Arab world. This study would be an interesting response to several questions, and it will examine the urban and architectural fabric in the Islamic world, discussing whether or not colonization was replaced by globalization, and analyzing how excessive consumption, in a broader sense, has changed our spaces into meaningless realities. A long tradition of architectural complexity, aesthetics and sustainable friendly features need to be studied in depth. These different studies would establish new bridges and bodies of knowledge not only for local architects and designers, but also for western professionals, and globalization can be turned into an advantage, at that point.


Keywords: Globalization, Islamic Architecture, Arab world, complexity, utopia


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