Friday, January 11, 2019

Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the one of the most beautiful structures in UAE that shows the heritage and culture of the country. It is the first majestic structure that people will see from the Airport. It is the project of the late President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and this eventually became his final resting place.
The largest mosque in the country, it is the key place of worship for daily prayers, Friday gathering and Eid prayers. During Eid it may be visited by more than 41,000 people.
It was designed by Syrian Architect Yousef Abdelky and it took 11 years to finish the construction of the project. Everything inside is hand-made or hand carved and not a single 3d printing machine was used. The mosque was inspired from Persian, Mughal and the Alexandrian Mosque of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi in Egypt.
This architectural work of art is one the world’s largest mosques, with a capacity for an astonishing 40,000 worshippers. It features 82 domes, over a 1,000 columns, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world’s largest hand knotted carpet. The main prayer hall is dominated by one of the world’s largest chandeliers –10 metres in diameter, 15 metres in height and weighing twelve tonnes. The mosque’s first ceremony was the funeral of its namesake, Sheikh Zayed, who is buried at the site.
How To Get There?
1.      If you are coming from Abu Dhabi city, you can take bus 32, 34, 44 or 54. It’s cheaper to go to the mosque through bus and it will only take about 30 minutes travel time from city proper to the mosque. You can also take a taxi and it will cost for about 35 AED
2.      If you are coming from Dubai, you can take an intercity bus from Ibn Battuta or Al Ghubaiba bus station to Al Wahda mall and then from Al Wahda mall you can take city bus 54. Travel time is about 15 minutes.
Things to remember:
1.      Dress modestly, no shorts, sleeveless, see-through clothes. Women are also asked to wear abaya which are provided in the mosque. (Visitors can also bring their own abaya if they want.)
2.      Smoking and food are not allowed inside.
3.      Before entering the mosque, visitors will be asked to remove their shoes.
4.      Be very respectful of the place.
5.      Of course there are no entrance fees. Mosque is open to visitors daily for 9 am to 10pm except for Friday mornings for worship.
Don’t forget to enjoy the calming and scenic view of the Mosque!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

For the past week, friends in facebook and Instagram share their total expenses in Grab for the year 2018 or even way back to when they installed the app (most likely when Uber was gone). So out of curiosity how much did you spend in Grab for 2018?

To check your “Statement of Accounts” you can google Grab Hub.

And then you will log in using your phone number to which the site will send you a pin number on your phone to enter in the site.

After logging in you’ll be brought to your dashboard where you can check your ride history from your specified date.

The total amount you spent can be seen when you asked for a pdf or an excel file version of the ride history

Most of the rides from last year are for business purposes and site meetings, but if you look into the amount accumulated for the past year, 23K is not a small amount.

Some of the things that you can buy for P23,000?

·        -Airplane ticket and pocket money for local trips
·        -Pocket money for international trips
·        -Airfare to Singapore or Hongkong
·        -A new beginner level DSLR
·        -Capital for small business

But why do we spend so much in Grab? 
NO the question really is “WHY DO WE SPEND SO MUCH IN TRAFFIC??

Modern cities around the globe focus their energy on infrastructure. A good infrastructure is crucial in the development mainly of the socio-economics of the country and tourism. Traffic in general impales a country and that is what happens to the Philippines.

JICA Philippines presented a data last Feb 2018 for the traffic update of 2017 and they computed that the country loses 3.5 Billion daily!

This is because the Philippines don’t invest on mass transportation and the country focuses more on individual car sales for profit.

But what can we do to help relieve this problem? Carpooling is becoming a trending transport solutions for Filipinos in the metro because it’s cheap, very convenient and it builds up camaraderie among the commuters. Ayala malls are also developing a bigger range for their P2P buses spreading as far as Clark Pampanga, Antipolo and Laguna.

The government is also developing a Build, Build, Build scheme that aims to create infrastructure that will solve the main problems of the country.

For this 2019 Let us hope to see some of the Build, Build, Build projects come into fruition and for Filipinos to experience a world class development in the country.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

After three attempts, hundred bucks, and about five hundred meters up, is the At the Top of Burj Khalifa experience worth it?

Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world located in Downtown Dubai. It is designed by Adrian Smith as a Design Partner of SOM. The Building has a height of 829.5 meters including the tip with 164 floors, 9 of those are for maintenance.

The concept behind the design came from the geometries of the regional desert flower and patterning systems embodied in Islamic Architecture. The building is built with reinforced concrete and glass cladding designed to withstand Dubai’s hot summer temperatures, the base of the building has a Y-shaped tripartite floor geometry to optimize the residential and hotel spaces. At the center of the floor geometry is a central core where the Y-shaped volumes of the floor upon rising act as the buttress for the tower’s core. As the tower rises, setbacks occur in an upward spiral pattern reducing the building’s mass as it goes higher.

Burj Khalifa boasts having a full view of Dubai skyline and even Iran shores at the top most floor when climate and visibility permits. One of the observation decks open for public is the At the Top where people can see the surrounding areas of Burj Khalifa from 124th and 125th floor about 488 meters high.

124th floor has an open deck with view of Dubai Mall, the end of Dubai Creek, the Desert, and the future location of Santiago Calatrava’s Observation tower which will be open for Dubai world expo on 2020. The rest of the 124th and 125th floors are enclosed but has the view of reclaimed Islands such as the Palm and the world, also has a view of the old Dubai to Sharjah, Downtown Dubai and Dubai Shoreline.

The lobbies going to the observation deck can be found on the lower ground floor of Dubai Mall near the entrance to Dubai Fountain and food court area. They do sell tickets over-the-counter but they are usually limited depending on the availability and demand so it is better to buy your tickets online through their website or you can ask your hotel to book for you. Take note that tickets bought directly from Burj Khalifa website is WAY cheaper than the tickets offered in travel agencies. Regular rates for non-peak hours which is at 8:30am to 2:30pm and 7pm till closing is 135 AED while 210 during peak hours from 3pm to 6pm.

It’s advisable to arrive at the lobby 30 minutes before the actual check in time to avoid the hassle of long queues at the security, if you checked in online and have a printed copy of the ticket, the security will immediately direct you to the lobby. Water, food and big bags are not allowed in the observation deck but these can be deposited to the baggage counter in the lobby.

There will be a series of exhibits about the architecture, construction and technology behind Burj Khalifa before entering the elevator lobby. After the exhibit, visitors will be held and grouped infront of two elevators that alternately bring visitors at the top. Each elevator has a speed of 10 meters per second making it a 2 minutes ride to the Observation Deck.

Upon arrival, the idea of being at the top of the world is overwhelming, seeing the cards on the highway as small as ants, the tall buildings looking like legos and seeing the border of Dubai along the horizon are all captivating. Even if the booked slot is at 12:30pm, the tourists didn’t mind the sun because of the windy and colder temperature at the deck compared at the ground.

Tourists can use the telescopes with built in LED displays of the past and present Dubai sharing the development for the past 48 years. This will show the drastic changes of the landscape from being a complete desert to developing infrastructures, skyscrapers and reclaimed islands.

Every corner offers an instagrammable view and people can never grow tired looking at the different views offered. Visitors can stay up to 2 hours and enjoy several VR and AR booths featuring Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol stunt from the movie. (If you remember they shoot Ghost Protocol in Burj Khalifa).

In an Architect’s perspective, the views from the observation deck is underwhelming at first because you basically see an unfinished city. However, an Architect does not focus on the finished product alone but he values the process achieving the goal. It’s an exciting idea to document a city from start to finish and that is what Burj Khalifa is offering for design professionals.

Looking into the views offered, designers can see the urban planning of Dubai, construction of reclaimed islands and construction of nearby buildings and Dubai Creek Tower. One striking characteristic of construction works in Dubai is the maintenance and cleanliness of the site which is a drastic contrast even to the top billed Contractors in the country. Another is the efficiency of infrastructure and road ways which can be seen from the observation deck.

It is best to visit Burj Khalifa every 3 to 5 years to have a chance of documenting milestone changes around the area, the time frame will also give something new to the visitors making experience for each person compared to the ones who visited prior.

December is the peak month with celebration of National Day, Christmas and New Year all packed in it. So be sure to book a week or a month before the visit to Burj Khalifa. It’s also not advisable to visit during summer because of the desert heat reaching up to 45 deg. Celsius.

You can check the website from time to time for Promos such as watching the sunrise at Burj Khalifa, At the top plus Burj Khalifa Club, SKY Burj Khalifa and many more.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

On the edge of Bur Dubai and Jumeirah district in Dubai, lies a contemporary structure that serves as the gateway to the Union House, the Etihad Museum.


The museum is part of the project of Dubai government to restore the Union house that witnessed the creation of UAE in Dec. 2 1971. Etihad means Union in Emirati, thus the museum contains the history of UAE specifically on its origins as Trucial states to the formation of country. It houses the history of the leaders of the Emirates, the society, economy, infrastructure, culture, history and military power of each Emirate.

Site Plan of Etihad Museum with Union House at the center, museum at right and guest palace at the left. Image from

Union House, Image from ASGCgroup

Etihad Museum is located beside the Historic Union house in Jumeirah waterfront. It was commissioned to Moriyama and Teshima Architects, a Canadian Architectural firm. The architects had an organic approach on design where they took inspiration from the manuscript where the Constitution is written by applying it to the façade and interiors. On the exterior, there are 7 leaning columns that reflect the 7 pens of the Leaders that signed the Union of the Emirates.

The structure and the compound has a relationship going around the dichotomy of being anti-contextual and contextual at the same time. Etihad Museum’s curved form is a complete contrast from the geometrically planned compound and the forms of both the Union House and guest palace but the Museum does not ignore the history and culture behind the area but applies the essence of these structure in the architecture.

The exterior of the museum is cladded with Matte White Aluminum Composite panels that follows the curves of the building. The Front, Rear and Left side of the building has a perimeter reflective glass that reflects it’s surrounding with Jumeirah district at front, Union House at the side and the water front and flag at the rear.

Upon entering the museum, the travertine from the plaza enters the space through the floors and walls. Visitors will see a full travertine amphitheater facing an inclined flooring with Arabic inscription on the floor. The Amphitheater can see the view of the Union house, and the garden where the country’s flag is from the inside.
Most of the exhibit spaces are underground with several light wells and open gardens giving natural light inside the space. The building has a theater, library an interactive timeline with maps and videos, and a recreational space.

It has a total of 10 halls with each designed around a different theme – Founding fathers, the UAE Interactive Map, the Interactive Timeline Hall, the Showcase, the Canals, the Seeds of Unity, the Change of Union, the Unity of the UAE, the Constitution and the Union Accomplishment.

The undulations from the idea of paper continue inside the building using the travertine stoned walls and curved white ceilings. Passageways although curved, values balance that creates a sense of arrival for each gallery. There are almost no straight walls inside the structure and that helps with the continuity of story for the exhibits and interest for the visitors upon looking the architecture itself.

Etihad museum embodies the history and the context of the Union of the Seven Emirates. It has a strong concept capturing the essence of the Union House and UAE’s History but it’s facade has overlooked the context of its surroundings.

It is a challenge to maintain the duality of the concept because designers need to find balance. The museum is a unique structure but its facade lacks character that can make it an Architecture for UAE alone. It can be placed in a middle of Dubai downtown, New York, Singapore or Germany where this type of design is common. Material selection and façade treatment can be a factor on this because the cladding is used too much internationally and it does mellow down the supposed strong concept behind the museum.

The interiors however is another story. Organic pathways, walls and ceilings can be translated to the desert; the curving stone walls reflects the walls of the old houses and mosques, and the ceiling and lights are like the stars at night that Emirati travelers use to navigate the desert. A lot may have thought that travertine is not locally produced in UAE but Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah, two of the seven emirates, have big quarries that produces several kinds of stones like marble, travertine, sandstone and limestone.   

If the intent on the Interior was translated also on the exterior, the connection that is needed to close the loose threads between the surroundings and the Union House could have been present.

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Maxine Panlilio