Spanish Architecture to Develop New Cities, Miguel Fisac in Abu Dhabi


Only 50 years ago, the UAE was composed of a few small villages of fishermen, shopkeepers, and pearl-traders; they lacked paved roads, running water and had only a few telephone lines. Today, it’s a fascinating and glimmering young country projected to the future as the result of the sudden discovery of oil in the 60s and its commercialization. In the early phases of its urban expansion, foreign architects played an important role due to the lack of tradition in the region of certain professions as designers and some of the most important Spanish architects worked in the region during its blooming in the 70s and 80s. Although, what could Spain export to the Middle East in those years? This paper will attempt to unfold the contributions of the modern Spanish architecture to the architecture of the Middle East during the blooming of the region. Specifically, it will be focused on the great Spanish architect Miguel Fisac and, in particular, the cultural and technical interchange between two different contexts (as the Spanishand theEmirati),throughaninnovativetwistedskyscraperdesignedforAbuDhabi(UAE)in the early 80s.

[1] The following papers explain in depth the evolution of the main cities of the UAE from the 50s until nowadays: García, R., Aglieri, T., Urban Impulses. Notes to Understand the Present and the Future of Dubai, Zarch. Journal of interdisciplinary studies in Architecture and Urbanism, n. 8, pp.78-88; García, R., Building Dubai, the legacy of John Harris, ANANKE. United Arab Emirates: Urban Landscape and Modern Heritage, nº 86, pp. 114-19; Sosa, M., Ahmad, L., Emirati Memories, documenting architectural modernheritage,intheUAE,ANANKE.UnitedArabEmirates:UrbanLandscapeandModernHeritage, nº 86, pp. 134-38; and, Roldan, J., Sharjah: Bedouin, Trucial and Arts State, ANANKE. United Arab Emirates: Urban Landscape and Modern Heritage, nº 86, pp. 129-34.

[2] Aglieri,T.,Dubai,1974.ReimaandRailiPietilä’sprojectfortheDeiraSeaCornicheCompetition,ANANKE. United Arab Emirates: Urban Landscape and Modern Heritage, nº 86, pp. 119-23.

[3] Delgado,E.,Aparicio,J.,(2017).Recogiendoconchasenlaarena.LaslibretasdeviajedeMiguelFisac. P+C: Proyecto y Ciudad: Revista de temas de arquitectura, n 8, pp. 7-22.

[4] Arques, F., (2010). “Una biografía arquitectónica”: in Fisac, M., Espuelas, M., Arques, F., et al. (2010). Miguel Fisac. Premio Nacional de Arquitectura 2002. Madrid: Editorial Lampreave, p. 34.

[5] Fisac worked very little outside Spain, and almost all those designs are listed in this text and almost all of them were done for the UAE.

[6] Ibid. p. 37.

[7] OnlyafewtextsstudyFisac’srelationwiththeUAEandallofthemtreatthistopicgenerically.Delgado, E., Aparicio, J., (2017). Recogiendo conchas en la arena. Las libretas de viaje de Miguel Fisac. P+C: Proyecto y Ciudad: Revista de temas de arquitectura, n 8, pp. 7-22; Peinado, Z., (2014). “Los apuntes de Miguel Fisac en sus viajes”: in Melián, A., (Ed.), El dibujo de viaje de los arquitectos. Las Palmas: UniversidaddeLasPalmas,pp.597-603;Fisac,M.,Espuelas,M.,Arques,F.,etal.(2010).MiguelFisac. Premio Nacional de Arquitectura 2002. Madrid: Editorial Lampreave, pp. 380-81: Arques, F., (1996). Miguel Fisac. Madrid: Editorial Pronaos, p. 20.

[8] ThereisasmalltravelbookintheMiguelFisacFoundationregardingthistrip.MiguelFisacFoundation: AFF342.

[9] The Foundation also preserved some letters regarding this invitation. AFF342.

[10] Thereisanothersmalltravelbookandsomedocumentsregardingthistripandthecompetitioninthe Foundation. AFF342.

[11] In reality, this is the description of the higher part of another tower designed for Abu Dhabi by Fisac a few months later, which that uses the same solution. This text is also preserved at the Foundation. AFF342.

[12] There is a short memory and a few drawings where the Fisac described the design of the complex and, specifically, the tower. AFF342.

[13] Peris, D., (2015). Miguel Fisac: Arquitecturas para la investigación y la industria. Madrid: Bubok, p. 98.

[14] Fisac also proposed another particular element to crown the entry courtyard of his design for the EmbassyofSpaininCanberra(Australia,1987),whichwashislastprojectabroad.MiguelFisac.Premio Nacional de Arquitectura 2002. Madrid: Editorial Lampreave, pp. 390-91.

[15] As a matter of fact, concrete has become one of the most popular materials in the country in the last decades.

[16] TheCouncilonTallBuildingsandUrbanHabitathasregistered15builttwistedtowers,andanother13 under construction, in a recent report.

[17] Diego Peris pointed out this quote in conversation with the author. Sevilla Lozano, J., (2014). Miguel Fisac. ¿Arquitecto de Dios o del “Diablo”? Madrid: Editorial Nueva Utopía, p. 299.