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Architectural eccentricities are commonplace in Dubai. Home to the world’s tallest skyscraper and only seven star hotel, the city’s iconic skyline offers onlookers a view good enough to frame.

Architect Fernando Donis had exactly that in mind when he conceived the design of the Dubai Frame, a 500 foot monument that’s quite literally a gargantuan picture frame. Set to take shape near to Dubai’s Zabeel Park, the design was first picked up in 2009 after it won a government-sponsored architecture competition.

“Dubai is a city full of emblems. Rather than adding one, we propose to frame them all: to frame the city,” said Donis. “Rather than building a massive structure, the purpose of this project is to build a void.”

Well now the structure’s 2015 completion date may face delays as Donis and Dubai municipality leaders are in a standoff after the local authority recently imposed drastic changes (pictured above) to the architect’s original design.

“Mr. Donis has said the changes constituted a breach of the terms of the competition,” reported The National, a local publication. It sounds like he has a point, as the competition brief stipulates “The author of the preliminary design placed first will keep his copyright and his work may only be used by the Dubai Municipality when he has signed the corresponding contract for drafting the corresponding design with the former.”

In a plea for help, the architect issued an open letter to the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, outlining why he believes the design changes are unfounded and don’t conform with the contract originally offered by the municipality.

“The tone of the letter and intention to go public is to solicit the intervention of the Ruler of Dubai, as we assume he is not aware of this situation, to hopefully still participate in the process of the project and now make them see that the design alterations they are making – next to unlawful – are misguided,” Mr Donis said. “The project is being transformed from being non-figurative architecture to an overscale figurative photo frame. That is, from being a modern, public monument to a postmodern pastiche.”

If or when the Dubai Frame is eventually complete, the structure will feature a museum extending through its entire base and a glass walkway that will offer visitors views of greenery below.

Check out some pictures of the monument and decide for yourself which designs are better:

dubai frame (1)

The redesign. Renderings of the original concept are below.

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dubai frame

Photo: Fernando Donis

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