Todd Reisz (toddreisz.com) is an architect and writer based in Amsterdam. He is editor and member of the Al Manakh team. Founded in 2006, Al Manakh is the collaborative initiative to monitor, reveal and forecast new urban developments unfolding in the Gulf region. Al Manakh 2: Gulf Continued(2010) was a groundbreaking work that revealed some of the countless facets of Gulf cities. Written during the region’s descent into economic crisis, the book explores how cities like Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai are responding to the global economic landscape as a means to continue holding their stake in a global context. These cities are at once challenged to confront their usual patterns of development and forced to produce revised responses to changing economic and social forces.
Continuing the work of Al Manakh 2, Todd continues to address issues addressed in the 500-page book through articles and interviews reflecting on the changing conditions of these cities.
Al Manakh takes its cues from the understanding that architects must act from an informed perspective about their environment. Al Manakh provides tools for approaching these cities. This knowledge is relevant to those operating in the region and beyond. These Gulf cities wield influence that increasingly surpasses local borders, as they invest in projects and companies anywhere between the US, the UK, India and China. And as these cities’ ambitions become a model for cities around the world, we could be witnessing future radical experiments in city-building.
This crisis has brought into focus the failures of past developments and the reconsideration of once ambitious plans. Most importantly, it highlights the need for a deeper understanding of the urban context in order to move forward. Al Manakh 2: Gulf Continued features over 120 voices, drawn mostly from the Gulf region, each addressing various themes ranging from sustainability in Abu Dhabi, the planned mega-cities of Saudi Arabia, Dubai’s crisis and its new metro, cultural preservation in Doha and trains departing from Riyadh. Pervading each of these reports is the specter of the economic crisis, and the effect it has had in challenging the ambitions and models of these cities.
Other members of Al Manakh include AMO, the think tank of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Archis /Volume Magazine and Dubai-based Pink Tank. The team published Al Manakh in 2007.
twitter: @Almanakh, @ToddReisz