Friday, August 29, 2014

A Morphology of Arches

My architecture department needs to be shaken up and challenged. I'm going to launch a training program and also get everybody to demonstrate their creativity by posting examples of their favorite work (that they've done themselves) on the walls of our office (which desperately needs to stop being an office and start being a "studio").
To kick this off I've created "A Morphology of Arches", which I'll print out nice and large, and mount in a prominent spot. I'm going to ask a few of my top staff to develop similar morphologies for vaults, domes, minarets and whatever else I can think of that's relevant to the work we do.
Any of you have suggestions?
Here it is... "A Morphology of Arches".

First impressions second time around

Yes, friends, I am back in Saudi Arabia. The forces of the universe seem to have conspired to bring me back here for more...

I was just innocently sitting in the cozy living room of my cottage by the sea, in Brittany, one evening, when I had the thought, "I should probably go back to Saudi and work some more. My finances need the boost."

I didn't act on the thought but 2 weeks later I was contacted by a recruiter who wanted permission to present my CV for a post in Riyadh. I agreed.

And lo and behold, here I am!

I am now the manager of the Architecture group of Dar Al Riyadh, one of the largest Saudi owned Architecture/Engineering firms.

Be careful what you wish for!


Things here in Riyadh seem a tad bit looser than when I left here 2 years ago. In the shopping malls I see more women, and more of them are not wearing the full face coverings. Women from the large expat community, ranging from Philippines to USA and Australia rarely cover their hair. In the past, there was strict separation between "Family" areas and "Single Men" areas in restaurants. The clear division seems to be fading. There are still areas reserved for families and groups of women. The single men don't go in these sections. But the families and groups of women are free to sit in the "single men" area without question. It seems to be the norm. So, Saudi women who may still be uncomfortable being in public in the presence of men they don't know still have the option of a "safe" place to go, while also having the option to go anywhere else too. It's a significant change, a small step, but in the right direction (in my humble opinion).

Traffic is still nuts ... but perhaps not quite so crazy as before. When I left 2 years ago the city was just beginning to install speed cameras. Now they are everywhere on the main roads and people seem to be calming down.

We're on the road to nowhere

A group of us at work did an overnight trip to our branch office in Al Khobar. This meant a 4.5 hour drive across the desert to the east coast. Here are a few images from the car window. At a truck stop along the way I saw these neat clay pots. Next time we do this trip I'll probably buy a few...

Things I didn't capture with my camera -

a tree, yes, a single tree growing out there, in the middle of nowhere with nothing around it, the only tree I saw except for a couple of small groves that were obviously planned and irrigated -

the burned out hulk of an SUV half submerged in the shifting sands, 100 feet off the side of the road, couldn't help wondering what the story was there. As far as I could see there was no skeleton inside -

speed demons by the handful driving at least 120 mph along the highway, using the shoulder to pass the people like us who were poking along at 90.