People at Al Ras Public Library in Deira, Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai’s landmark buildings from the sixties and seventies will now be preserved under the ‘Modern Heritage Initiative’ launched by Dubai Municipality on Thursday.

The project to protect these buildings considered part of the memory of the place and contributing to the story of the development of Dubai will be launched jointly by the Planning Department and the Architectural Heritage Department in the municipality, the civic body said in a press release on Thursday.

Najib Mohammed Saleh, director of Planning Department, said the municipality has chosen a short list of buildings as a first stage to protect these buildings. The list includes Dubai World Trade Centre, Clock Tower, Al Baraha Hospital, Al Khuloud Nursery and Al Ras Library.

Dubai Municipality is collaborating with a group of partners such as the Ministry of Health and Prevention, Al Baraha Hospital, Knowledge Fund Establishment, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, and the World Trade Centre for the project.

Ahmad Mahmoud, director of Architectural Heritage Department, said that the Department has been working on a list of the most important buildings dating back to the sixties and seventies of cultural, social, architectural and tourist values to protect them.

“Many of these buildings still occupy major positions and perform important functions. The buildings have had a great impact on shaping the urban environment and crystallising the architectural character of the 1960s and 1970s of Dubai’s development,” he said.

The Modern Heritage Initiative is in line with recent global and regional trends to protect cultural heritage. Unesco has begun to incorporate many of these buildings into the World Heritage List as part of the heritage of humanity, the civic body said.

The Dubai World Trade Centre

Built in 1973 by architect John Harris, the trade centre is an architectural landmark that reflects the harmony of local architecture with modernity.

It is the first skyscraper in the region. Dubai’s horizons have expanded to exploit a large proportion of the oil trade. It seemed to be self-sustaining, and was one of the first projects to promote trade and boost it as a global model.

Al Baraha Hospital

It was one of the first hospitals to be built in Deira in 1966 at the expense of the government of Kuwait. The 100-bed hospital was designed by John Harris as part of the city’s expansion, which was later called Al Baraha Hospital, where doctors were able to handle surgery and treatment. The hospital was providing free service to the public. The building was based on a multi-section design, which is spread over the different sections of the hospital. The building has open spaces in the centre for ventilation and natural lighting, and the building still offers its services to the patients, in spite of its presence near Dubai Hospital.

Al Ras Library

Built in 1963 under the guidance of Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, it was the first library in Dubai that reflected the interest of leaders in education and culture to promote the local community.

The Dubai Public Library has been a vital platform for constructive dialogue and exchange of ideas between people of various cultures for more than 50 years. The library is proof that culture has been given special attention, and that nation-building is based not only on economic development, but also on the cultural and intellectual development of the country’s citizens.

Al Khuloud Nursery School in Karama

An architectural model of the buildings that were designed in that period, the nursery’s building reflects the extent to which modernity fits with traditional architecture by focusing on natural lighting and shaded spaces.

Its history dates back to 1975 and is one of the good examples that reflect through the design idea on how to respond to the functional requirements for the establishment of an educational space for children and also taking into account the environmental and aesthetic aspects. The design of the building was adopted as a model that was replicated in many areas, one of which is located in the emirate of Sharjah.

The building was designed by architect Jafar Toukan. In his design idea, he relied on the horizontal extension of the blocks on one floor so that the nature is intertwined between the parts of the building through an inner courtyard open in the centre. There are two main blocks on the sides of which are a number of rooms and educational and recreational spaces.

The main characteristic of the building is the natural lighting in all its spaces and the use of bright colours in the coating of its interior walls. The building is surrounded by a two-metre-high concrete brick wall, which is done in a decorative manner inspired by the traditional character. The nursery includes a garden with many trees and a water tank, which was the practice in many educational institutions in the 1970s.