urbanphenomena: design+research

Workshop | Folly for Jeddah | 2013 February 23-25

This is a workshop conducted by urbanphenomena at Dar AL-Hekma university as part of the Design Week activities which took place during the last week of February 2013. The following is a synopsis of the Workshop.

1.   Background Information

 The Architectural Folly

 The Concise Encyclopedia defines an architectural folly as “an eccentric, generally non-functional (and often deliberately unfinished) structure erected to enhance a romantic landscape.” Traditionally, architectural follies do not serve a specific function. Usually it is just a structure in the landscape that a person could use as he/she pleases. Traditional examples ranged from garden pavilions (The Ottoman Kiosque) to observation towers (Broadway Tower) – however, form did not relate to context per se; hence the use of the term “Folly”, denoting; extravagance, fantasy, or spectacle. In the U.S., the term has been applied to ornate gazebos. It may also be applied to any unusual building that is extravagant or whimsical in style.


2. Design Brief


Objectives :

The main objective of this workshop is:

·         To formulate a clear expression of your own impression of the city. This involves exploring the relationship between identity construction vs. spatial composition, through the design of architectural follies within the context of the city of Jeddah.


In order to achieve the above objective, participants will:

·         Survey the contemporary environment and urban context of the city of Jeddah Address.

·         Discuss issues related to the local identity of the city.

·         Learn the importance of developing a narrative in the design process, and generate spatial compositions from a response to contextual conditions.


The city of Jeddah is currently experiencing a massive drive of urban regeneration. The task of this workshop is to design and develop a set of urban architectural follies in the middle of Jeddah’s Arba’een Lagoon, close to Jeddah’s heart. The role of these follies is to become midway connection points between the old and new. They would function as observation decks to monitor the activities of the city of Jeddah’s regeneration, drawing -in process- attention to Jeddah’s urban plight. Naturally – as with the example of the Corniche sculptures and the creativity of Jeddah’s residents- other uses for these follies are welcome as long as they are safe.

Design Problem:

Please use a nine-square grid as your basic module to design a folly for Jeddah.

This 9m x 9m grid is the basis of the composition of your folly hovering above the water level of the lagoon.

The goal is to reach a composition/structure that enables users to interact with the lagoon and Jeddah’s historic core. In process, the spatial composition will express your own reading of the city.

Design Requirements:

•       A nine-square grid of 3mx 3m per each square ( 9m x 9mm in total).

•       Your folly must have distinct entry and exit points at different locations.

•       Please use at least one linear, one planar and one volumetric element.

•       The folly must be safe for human us, and must be structurally sound. In the case of multi-level structures, a safe vertical access method must be provided

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This entry was posted on February 23, 2013 by in Research and tagged , , , .
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