The urban starting point
Dubai is a city of measures. Those are communicated in bulk words like tallest, longest and biggest loosing all sense of scale. This project is about bringing hands on understanding of metrics that are meaningful to the Dubai population with regards to historic metrics (original length of Creek pre dredging) and current metrics (height of Burj Dubai)
The lettering starting point
Arabic and Latin numerics have a common history whereby the current Latin number find their origin in Arabic and the current Arabic numbers find their origin in Hindi numbers. Another point of interest is the link between numbers and letters whereby numbers were initially written in letter form, see early Islamic astrolabs - Abjad Hawwaz alphabet.
The application of or project on an urban level translates into 'urban rulers' linking relevant city metrics (length of Creek, Burj Dubai) to repetitive urban elements (metro columns, light poles). The intention is to engage the Dubai public with more knowledge about the city, where the city is turned into an intertwined platform of shared metrics. This, from a distance, relates the project to the Islamic culture to which Dubai belongs whereby measuring systems were developed in that culture's early evolution.
Inspired from the process of dredging and land fill, which is common to Dubai n the Creek and the Palm Island respectively, and in Amsterdam with the Ij canal, our letter experimentation uses the process of two materials in tension - one eating up the other, or replacing it, or being contained by it. Sand/water compression/tension sol/fluid
Another idea is to explore the robustness of blocks that are found - though rarely on some of the Dubai or Amsterdam shores where a block inspires the weight and mass of the letter.
The grid, as an organizing system is also introduced in some of our experimentation with letters where the order of the grid contrast and keeps track of the chaos of the random dual material tension.
Gaffiti and guerilla strategies inform our final application whereby we will work with the possible limitations of applying letters on urban elements, limiting their application to short spans of time. That said, the letters themselves do not die, rather they travel from one site to the other maybe even from one city to the other - eg Amsterdam urban elements allow for a horizontal installation expressing the length of Burj Dubai on a biker's track. With that, the financing put into producing the numerics or letters is maximized - the letters can be 3D with a clamp systems that allows them to attach and detach from one urban element to the other. This strategy also works towards enhancing the idea of knowledge sharing in the city and the intertwining of society to urban numbers to events (such as using the 42 Km marathon as an event where certain metrics are brought forward on the running track).