Theory and Criticism
Cross-Cultural Meaning
Cross-Cultural Meaning

The relation between the Orient and the Occident has always been a critical source of polarity and a subject for extensive literary criticism. For architecture, however, very little criticism of the discourse of Western architecture in the East, if any, was brought to the fore.


The image of Burj Al-Arab (Tower of Al-Arab) in Dubai is heavy with cultural meaning yet to be investigated. For cross-cultural meaning to convey its message, its interpretation has to be shared between the peoples of the cultures involved. In our case here, the structural and lavish material spectacle is without a doubt not misinterpreted. On the contrary, it is a result of a profound intentional celebration of Capitalism and the power of money. Its symbolic gesture as a sail approaching the land but never reaching it, relates vividly, though literally, to the cultural heritage. This understanding is shared by both parties involved in the spectacle realisation as well as the spectators. However, the building view remains the public view from the land, while, the less accessible view from the sea projects another image (see attached).


One has to look long and deep enough at this particular view before the shadow of misinterpretation is casted on its cross-cultural meaning. The question then forces itself: what was really in the mind of its designer Tom Wright of W. S. Atkins and Partners, UK? The answer, of course, is still in his mind but the cross-cultural (mis)interpretation is in the air and the wind is clearly blowing from the sea.


For more images and information of the building please see:


Ziad Aazam
Cross-Cultural Meaning
it is a lovely building,viewed from all sides,in all respect,even the technology adoptation to the context is very intersting,we need to waite for next two decades to find flows in the design as weather/change in technology/petrons's interest to maitain shall start abbing at the end of that time and we shall know about the cultural empact verses technology verses design form crumbaling.
Dushyant Nathwani


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