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Archive for the ‘understanding al jazeerah al hamra’ Category

Al Jazeerah al Hamra is an ancient Ras al Khaimah town built of sand, bricks and coral, and it is prized by archaeologists as a rare example of pre-oil Emirati living. However, development and labourers seeking cheap housing are threatening the village’s historic integrity.

And three years ago, things began to change. Development at the nearby industrial zone brought in workers who needed low-cost housing. Companies began renting villas in al Jazeerah al Hamra, putting 20 or 30 workers into a house once shared by a family of pearl divers or fishermen.

At first, there were only a few labourers in the village. Families were reluctant to rent their old homes and many feared to live there because the village is believed to be haunted by powerful jinn, or spirit beings. But in the past six months, the south end of the village has been transformed, essentially, into a labour camp.

Businesses are moving into the village. The neon lights of laundries and grocery stores have brought life back to its dark corners. Imposing lorries and taxis are parked outside villas that drivers now call home.

As the demand for cheap accommodation increases, al Jazerrah al Hamra risks being lost. Now, under a master plan approved by Sheikh Saud bin Saqr, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras al Khaimah, the village is to be preserved for future generations. Yet with each month that passes, the preservation of this sandcastle village comes under greater threat. New residents are moving deeper into the village, towards older houses. With them comes garbage and damage from daily living.

Rashed Abdulla is one of many homeowners from  al Jazeerah al Hamra who has decided to rent his old home. Thirty-eight years ago, he moved his family to a new village a few hundred metres north.

Abandoned 40 years ago, the crumbling old houses in al Jazeerah Al Hamra are now finding new life, essentially being transformed into a labour camp for workers from the nearby industrial zone. When renovations are finished, he will rent the three-bedroom villa to labourers for Dh20,000 (US$5,400) a year.

Ibrahim Tanju, 44, a lorry driver from Kerala, India, was one of the first to move into the village three years ago when RAK’s industrial area began to develop. “Nobody lived here at that time,” said Mr Tanju. “Now there are groceries and laundries and the rent is very cheap. In RAK, it is so much money. People live here, first of all, because it costs little money. Secondly, because it’s near the ceramics company.”

“It’s better than a caravan,” said Mr Tanju, who shares his three-bedroom house with 20 other men.

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this is a quick task Andrè Fontes gave to his students.  i stole it.  the idea was to clear your mind, be precise and try to get to the core of the project.

1. find 5 keywords for your project; use max 10 minutes. sketch or write.
2: what is your 5 key action? use max 10 minutes
3: Object to describe your project- use 10 minutes.
4: whats the logo of your project. max 10 minutes sketch.
5: then – drawing of action of the place

my five words are: bedouins ( identity); multi-functional (seasonal); autonomy (independent); immigratin (workforce); tourism (presence, future).

my five actions are: preservation (archaeology); re-development (add programs); sustain (systems); human scale (space); islamic approach (identity).

my object is a mix of spices. a mix of spices is created to enhance each others qualities. combined they create a new quality.

my logo is based on a development of several programs within the borders of the village. they function as independent programs, but fixes on to each other to create a dynamic of differences, combined. like a puzzle.

my action of the place shows the independent use of the courtyard structures, introvert, but identifying itself in public space. the public space, alleyways and small streets, serves as an independent layer accessible to everyone.

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al jazeerah al hamra has for the last decades been known as a ghost town, abandoned from 68-71, it has been without inhabitants for 40 years.  “now, only Jinn live here”, people of the village tell us.

Creeping desert sands bury ghost town

Video Documentary: A group visit the village of al jazeerah al hamra, part one.

Video Documentary: A group visit the village of al jazeerah al hamra, part two

the irony now, is that the new development, just adjacent to the old village is lacking electricity and other necessities, so it remains empty. but not only for this reason. even though almost every apartment and housing unit is sold out, the majority of the owners are speculators, not even in need of such a unit, so there is no one to move in.

The Specials, real ghost town remix , featuring the new development of Al hamra Village Complex.

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over time, al jazeerah al hamra has developed it`s building structure in a traditional expanding way.  starting with a small village structure in the center of the island consisting of only Areesh houses, to a more complex situation expanding into main land area.

so, with the village of today being abandoned, but still intact, constructional, there are several possibilities of re-developing the space. one way is a sectional area-based development. to some extent this has already started to happen, with the workers renting abandoned houses in the southern area of the village.

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because of the lack of written information on the village, i have created a time-line to help me in my research for easy update and overview. some interactive online help/advice is also appreciated.

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working with models is a good way of exploring a situation. i am trying to work with clay, to create a sense of the same materiality and tactility. many of the constructional problems related to the use of mud has to do with humidity VS dryness. a mud-house being abandoned for 40 years is sure to crumble.

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there is little written documentation on the village of al jazeerah al hamra. for four-five hours every day during my first week on site, i documented the typology in regards to materiality of the houses.  i have divided it into three: coral reef stone; compacted sea-sand bricks and breeze-blocks/concrete.  it is to some extent showing the development of the village. no maps or other documentation can be found, so everything is made up from scratch. oral stories are documented as my project develops.

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