Wednesday, December 31, 2014

DESIGN IDEAS: Omani Bedroom (traditional or traditional contemporary) pt. 1

Now I was tragically disapointed when it turned out the Muscat villa we are building, as a compromise (its a twin villa) had to be European in flavour ----or, otherwise, ugh, modern---yuck (soooooooooo not me). So I am really happy with the fact that I might get to start designing hotel rooms in a local hotel in a very traditional style. The style should reflect the traditional architecture (palm frond roof, mud brick, sarooj plaster ect), and also, the fact that in the local area, few pieces of furniture were traditionally used. Mats and carpets and cushions on the floor for bedding, pegs in the wall to hang clothes, ect... but still, the room has to be completely functional from a traveller's perspective---with a dash of luxury. The only type of bed type furniture really traditional in Oman are these beds, pictured below {mosquitoe neeting is a must for the hotel in question}:
...But they are a tad bit large for most of the rooms, and more from Muscat region or Zanzibar ect... common in Portuguese built forts, ect... So I thought I'd take a little inspiration from Greece and Morocco in how to obtain a little functionality combined with Omani simplicity:
Since some of the rooms are small but I insist that everyone should have a private bath, this deisgn below might work:
Anyways, palm frond side tables, and mandoos (studded boxes) also must be incorporated, along with Omani pottery and textiles. Lighting was always kerosene lamps, so I'll think of way to go on that... And colour can be incorporated, as many houses in smaller villages such as Jebel Ackdar, were painted, although the hotel's owner probably prefers natural neutrals. We'll see. I'd like each room to be unique.
 I love the grand idea of mosquitoe net draping and a canopy as shown below, but Moroccan arches are far too grand for us;):
And some of the rooms (like above) have wall feature that were meant for placing lanterns or books ect... which can be used as a design feature such as a headboard (less elaborate of course, than most Moroccan grand hotels). I like the Arabesque arrangement (below) of simple white cotton pillows:
Anyways... sharing my design ideas for now. Better get back to present projects. Totally not on the interior design phase of the hotel yet... Ugh. Paperwork. Permissions. Construction and contractors...

Monday, December 22, 2014

The National Museum of Oman---to be completed 18th November 2014?

I stand corrected. It is IN a plan to have a national museum of Oman. It is "almost" completed/(almost open?).
Supposedly The National Museum of Oman was to be opened in the last quarter of this 2014 in November (so it should be open right?) and the contract cost $25 million (I assume US dollars not rials Omani?). According to the Ministry of Heritage and Culture, the construction area of the museum is 13,000 square metres with 4,000 square metres, to house 7,000 objects (5,000 of archeological significance)  in 250 showcases (anything related to traditional handicrafts in various forms, old and rare photographs, original manuscripts, documents and old correspondence, traditional navigation tools, al-raḥmāniyyāt (guides) records of falajs, and the old tools used in their construction and maintenance, banknotes and coins traded in old Oman, rare postage stamps, fine art works by pioneering Omani artists and archaeological finds). It was to be built (is being built? since I have heard nothing about completion) close to Al 'Alam Palace in Old Muscat (near Bait Zubair and all that---so good for tourists visiting Mutrah Souq). I now know what that construction was (cement was by Carillion--one construction company---I don't know the others).
 It was designed by a Spanish design firm, Acciona Producciones y Diseño (and Arts Architecture are the design architects? and museum designers are Jasper Jacob Associates). That design included (includes?) twelve galleries based on themes from Omani history [Earth and Man, Maritime History, Weapons, Cultural Achievements, Aflaj, Coins, Pre-history and Ancient Ages, Oman and the Outer World, the Majesty of Islam and the Renaissance Era], a temporary exhibit hall for travelling exhibitions (great)---along with required storage, a wharehouse, a conservation centre (yes!---we so need that) and an education centre and lecture hall  (for school tours I assume). Of course (for tourists and staff) there will be things like gift shop, restaurant, coffee shop ect...The collections housed by the museum are to be "contextualised with numerous interactive and audiovisual elements aimed at bringing the museum experience to life" and "The "Oman in History" audiovisual presentation, shot by the design firm, will appear in "ultra-high definition" (four times the usual HD quality) and will be projected on a screen of 8.3 megapixels in the museum theatre." (So the Museum has a theatre). It was also proposed to be accessible for wheelchairs, and the visually impaired. All great.
Acciona Producciones y Diseño are a pretty well known design firm, engaging in projects I have ACTUALLY heard about, like the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha and the Qatar Orientalist Museum, and the concept drawings I managed to google, I am totally into so, beyond my doubt that this project met its completion date, and budget, I am optimistic. Archeology in Oman is very under studied. For tourism, finds are important, and for anthropology and archeology as feilds themselves, of immeasurable value. I am truly, truly excited. I want to know the opening hours;).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The proposed Muscat Cultural Center

The proposed Muscat Cultural Center will be built [still looking to find out exactly where to figure out for myself if the plan included required parking and traffic ect...] is scheduled to include a National Library [which I have been waiting for forever] set to contain up to 5 million books, a National Archives [totally required because of the state some of Oman's most important publications and documents were in--- the last five years ago I saw some of the storage premises but I know the Minsistry of Heritage has been working on conservation of late since the old Minister left I guess], and a National Theatre (which houses a thousand seats) [didn't really think we needed this but cool right?].

---I was more hoping for a national museum like the Royal British Museum or the Royal British Columbia Museum, or the New York Museum of Natural History/combined ect... kind of like a Balboa park via San Diego kind of idea for the proposed cultural center (since I heard a national botony park was in the works also somehow). Natural history, archeological history, modern history, and art, housed in one place for central Muscat WOULD be AWESOME for the capital, yes?

However, disapointed as I am for the future career paths of Omani archeologists and anthropologists without a proper Museum, the center WAS the idea of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage (lovely people there), there will also be four other buildings. These will be: a children's library, cinema (yes, IMAX, please IMAX), gallery and workshop, litterary society headquarters (yes), and a lecture hall (as well as retail facilities to target our tourists). To quote the project development company, Mace, appointed to run this development, "Landscaping will comprise the lavish Oasis Fruit Garden which will accommodate 1100 palm trees, 750 fruit trees and 32,500 smaller trees and shrubs." And about the center Mace says "Due to the centre’s high profile it will act as a dedicated vibrant space to collect, preserve and display live and historic contemporary arts and culture in Oman. It will also aim to be a hub that will link local and international knowledge and cultural industries to help develop Oman’s cultural scene."
 So all that is great for Omani writers, artists, conservationists, musicians, and hopefully, traditional craftspersons, and linguists (Oman has some dying languages to preserve--- or at the very least, to document).

The architecture is, I believe, by AS Architecture studio. The project is set to be managed and cost-managed by Mace (hope they are good), but I have NO IDEA who in the Ministry is exactly in charge of monitoring the project (hope HM Qaboos follows this one as well as he did the Grand Mosque and the Opera house). That means I also have no idea when its deadline is, who the construction companies are on it, the contractor, ect... If anyone knows, please let me know, via the comments box of this post or by email.

Well, the architects did a great job didn't they?: So let's hope it gets built {on time and on budget and without scandal ;) }

Baby, it's cold outside!---sweater weather in Muscat---at least for OPNO

You know, most clothing in Oman is overpriced. It is the American price [ex. 10.00 USD---equivelent to like, 4 rial something?] changed to rials. 10.000 OMR is a lot compared to 10 USD flat. But there is one thing to be thankful for.... winter clothing is ALWAYS on sale in Muscat.

Back in Canada, there was never a sweater or coat or capelet left in my size this time of year... but in Muscat I have my pick. And on sale. Which is... awesome.
Yes, I am wearing a sweater in December in Muscat. I am freezing. With the ACs and all, I need it.
The sarcastic, are you really Canadian, I encounter from Omanis, and amused glances from expats, can be brushed aside as I and another fellow Canadian---who has for almost as long as myself, been situated here in the MiddleEast---debate whether fingerless gloves are superior to a piping hot mug for increased typing skills, now that Oman's winter has set in. I suppose, if one is not quite as aclimatized as us too, there's always ski dubai, and funzone skating in Qurum, and vacations elsewhere (Switzerland seems quite popular with Omanis this year) to take advantage of winter sweater sales in Oman.