Saturday, July 10, 2010

Makkah and the Vertical expansion

It almost been a year since the last time i visited the city where i was born,Makkah,the holy city of muslims.

the changes that took place in the last three years are so intense i can barely recognize the city anymore,there is a monorail project on going which i believe has been waaay over due,as transportation issues were always critical during hajj times every year.

skyscrapers are taking over the city, makkah currently looks like a war zone from all the demolitions and trucks and tractors cleaning the scene,the streets are heavily broken and full with potholes from the heavy trucks,almost all the streets around the city are closed for either repaving or detouring due to construction.

all this should be considered impressive for a city that of prime importance to every muslim in the world,right?


or at least not completely right, the expansions and huge constructions came out on the expense of many many historical locations and building that were landmarks of our city of makkah,one of the most is famous buildings that caused an outrage upon demolising was Ajyad fortress ,
Maktabat Makkah,which means the library of makkah which is also believed to be the birth place of the prophet Mohammad PBUH.

but let us not get into the political sensitive aspect of the matter,as some believe this city should remain as it is for its cultural values,others believe it should be the most developed city in the islamic world,each has his motives,and each has a point.

my main point of concern here is,with this rapid,impressive rate of vertical raise in buildings in makkah,i have not noticed any changes in the layout of the streets that accommodate these buildings,even though there are multiple projects that hopefully one day will provide a vital vessel for traffic to makkah one day,but the inner vessels within the city that have been of a deseperate need for a proper and complete redesigning to match the growth of this city which during peak times of hajj is mainly operated by buses.

the matter of traffic and the transportation has always been discussed about makkah,some strongly believe that Hajj should be and should remain a pedestrian practice,which i beileve is the most effective way too,as the traffic and buses only add congestion to an already heavily congested city.

in the current situation that makkah is in,it looks like its only a matter of time before the entire infrastructure of the city collapses unless some serious rehabilitation for the entire city takes place,which i hope ill live to see.

what are your thoughts?do u have a say! please share!


Anmar Fathaldin said...

well said
I lost the spirituality I had with Makkah. I used to be the sole person I know to love Makkah more than Madina spiritually but not anymore :(

Chiara said...

Good architects and city planners know how to integrate new buildings with historical preservation. Such buildings once destroyed are irreplaceable. One of the saddest things about traveling in the US is the decimation of many historical sites. I was once in Tampa Florida for a conference and was supposed to be some historic recognition of the Seminole nation who originally lived there. I found it. A medium sized plaque in the courtyard of a shopping plaza marked with a line or two about how the Seminole nation used to live here. Europe is much better at preservation, but...

They have similar problems with old streets and contemporary traffic. Pedestrian zones, stretching for blocks even are a positive solution.

Older buildings were built to pedestrian scale, and are a real asset to the life of a city.

As I am not a hajj candidate I leave that aspect to others, but certainly the sense of a communal spirit with humanity is better achieved without sky scrapers.

This reminds me of Federico Garcia Lorca's angst when in New York city which he famously wrote about in Poeta en Nueva York (1929-30). He was particularly disturbed by the concrete, the traffic (noise!) and the skyscrapers. He captured well the alienation many feel.

Great topic and post!

Chiara said...

PS off-topic except I found it alienating, the French news this morning was unusually shocking, what with the xenophobia, Islamophobia, Celtic Crosses and swastikas tagged on a mosque and a halal butcher shop, as part of some persons celebration of French National Day.

My angst resulted in this, which is definitely not Lorca but I hope a clarification of what is at stake in the proposed burqa ban in France:

Why, even if you hate the niqab, you should hate the French "burqa ban" more

All are welcome to read and comment.

Lou K, Saudi Arabia said...

It's really sad to see Money as a driving force to re-invent the city again, more the wellbeing of it's existing culture and people..

And to actually put a Big Ben in our faces, and try to Alladin'ize it with some Islamic Fantasia architecture, will deliver Makkah, one of islam capitals, into a hollow capitalistic skyline..

Best/worst thing is, the business owners of most of these buildings are directly/indirectly related to those who should be the caretakers of the wellbeing of the place.. Look at it now, great work, eh?

To make things even worse, there is absolutely NO consideration whatsoever to any urban design precautions.. The height of the building is not proportional with the surrounding 2 lane streets, and the risk studies seem to be none-existent.. If the tower falls, due to structure miscalculation, earthquake, or an explosive surrounding building, can you draw a chart of the damage scale for the complete area?

Greed is Glory i guess..

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