Celebrating Ramadan: Using creative placemaking to bridge cultural norms

Forced air sculptural installation at Mall of the Emirates on Dubai, UAE. Nylon fabric and custom electric fans for starlights and crescent moon. Custom programmed lighting effects in white and green light, green being the traditional color of Ramadan. Suspended from iron and glass pavilion roof. Viewed from four levels. Designed to fill very large overhead open space as an observance of Ramadan for the families living in and visiting Dubai.

Forced air sculptural installation at Mall of the Emirates on Dubai, UAE. Nylon fabric and custom electric fans for starlights and crescent moon. Custom programmed lighting effects in white and green light, green being the traditional color of Ramadan. Suspended from iron and glass pavilion roof. Viewed from four levels. Designed to fill very large overhead open space as an observance of Ramadan for the families living in and visiting Dubai.

I have been fortunate to travel the world to experience the biggest and most ambitious and iconic commercial property projects. Highlights like planning the grand opening of the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, producing the grand opening of the Dubai Mall and Africa’s first modern shopping and entertainment mall, Morocco Mall in Casablanca, have kept my energies focussed on solutions on a scale that is as big as it gets.

The dazzle that comes from big projects is secondary to the satisfaction that comes from being immersed in a new culture. That is what informs our team’s design thinking as we think creative placemaking for cultures that are not ours. Customs and cultural spirituality always inform us and are favorites to study and experience. Ramadan has been a somewhat consistent opportunity for us; Ramadan in Dubai is over the top–go figure.

We were commissioned to create an observance of Ramadan for one of Dubai's most Iconic destinations. Mostly known for a ski slope in the Arabian desert, Mall of the Emirates is truly a spectacle. Our design had to be as well. Representational art is a delicate subject in creating visual dazzle. We were able to travel close to representing the night sky during the Holy Month. Some artistic liberties were taken to create awe and add fantasy. The design is fully immersive due to scale, coverage, and quantity of focal points. The public was very generous with their praise of the installation. The client was completely dazzled. This project led to more work with the client and remains one of our favorite creative placemaking projects within other cultures.


POST BY ED MANNER • AUGUST 2013