Luca Donner (Venice, 1969) is a PhD architect and educator. He is Co-Founder and Principal of Donner SOrcinelli Architecture (DOSO). By leading DOSO he has been awarded with “20+10+X World Architecture Community Award”, “Cityscape Architectural Review Award”, “SAIE Selection Awards” and Holcim Awards for sustainable constructions. In 2017, he was Nominated by Korean Institute of Architects among “100 Architects of the year”. Since 2007, he has been teaching Architecture and Urban Design in Universities in Italy and UAE. He is author of research papers and architecture critic essays with a specific focus on the relationship between housing and cultural sustainability, building typologies and urban retrofitting. He has lectured at Academic Institutions worldwide as well as in International Congresses and Symposia. He served as Jury member of the Exhibition Design Competition of the Korean Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, Architizer A+Awards 2020 as well as Board Member of several Public Institutions related to Architecture and Urban Planning. He is member of Scientific Committees and Correspondent of ARQA Magazine from Middle East.
Francesca Sorcinelli (Treviso, 1971) holds a MArch at IUAV University of Venice. She is Co- Founder and Partner of DOnner SOrcinelli Architecture (DOSO) an award-winning Architecture Atelier based in Venice and Dubai. Her works with DOSO have been extensively published in architecture books and international magazines. Some of these works have been exhibited in international venues e.g. Architecture Biennale of Venice, Architecture Center Houston, The Architecture Foundation London as well as Van Alen Institute of New York, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Architecture Moscow, Daegu Architectural Culture Biennale and 24th UIA Tokyo Congress. She has been teaching Architecture and Interior Design in Universities in Italy and United Arab Emirates since 2008. Francesca is currently Assistant Professor at Zayed University where she teaches studios and theory courses. In her published research papers Francesca examines the dichotomy between housing and living habits coming from different cultural settings in existing urban contexts. She has been also investigating urban environments and landscapes in the United Arab Emirates by means of photography.
The meaning of identity of a place is manifested in its genius loci, or rather in the hidden spirit of the place itself. The immanent value of the built environment represents its physical and materic sedimentation, as well as the collective memory testifies to the emotional stratification of the space itself. The spatial component involves not only the sphere of urban form and public spaces, but also the private dimension of domesticity. It is a process of accumulation of the historical memory of a place, through fragments of shared community life as well as of family and domestic identities. In this sense, the theme of loss of urban historical memory in newly developed contexts, in cities such as Dubai for example, appears relevant. Furthermore, how in such areas the built environment is suddenly altered by the dynamics of real estate.
This contribution documents, also by means of photography, the case of the disappearance of Sha’biya Al Safa Neighborhood (also known as Sha’biya Al Shorta). Neighborhood built to house the low-income local population, as part of the social housing program wanted by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan since the end of the 1960s. These photos, taken in September 2018, document the state of the neighborhood shortly before its demolition, when its inhabitants had already abandoned this place. Instead, the pictures taken in February 2021 describe the current state of the area: an infrastructured tabula rasa ready for real estate development.
The images narrate the loss of daily living in the neighborhood. They speak of a community, which has now disappeared, characterized by a vibrant everyday life with cultural values rooted in the place and tradition. It is a visual testimony that identifies the urban peculiarities of the neighborhood in its morphological and typological dimension, as well as reveals the traces of the family life of its inhabitants. This case documents, once again, how urban transformations based on demolition and new construction inevitably lead to a zeroing of the original social identity and of the collective memory connected to the place itself.
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