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City Life

Neighbourhood Video Series: Restoring Historic Jeddah

Its been a while since there have been any video’s in the neighbourhood video series so I I figured that I would highlight a video of one of our old favourites. Squint/Opera

Restoring Historic Jeddah

In the modern period, there has scarcely been a single pilgrim to Mecca from overseas who has not made a stop-over at Jeddah—an important port, a place of recuperation, the best place to buy souvenirs and the essentials, both personal and religious, one will need in the course of the Hajj.

squint/operas film for the redevelopment of Jeddah Central District describes a project of six million square metres, the largest city centre project in the Arab world. The narrative explains the historical importance of the city and makes the case for a sympathetic development, aiming to revitalize the citys architectural and social inheritance whilst protecting its utterly unique character.

Archive photographs and pictorial representations of the city animated by subtly shifting two-dimensional planes give way to a long, and thoroughly impossible, tracking shot in which the viewers gaze seems to be the cause of a spectacular regeneration: dilapidated buildings are renovated, roads healed, trees and shades descend to provide comfort in public spaces.

The viewer is ushered through the project by points of focus serving the films narrative and explanatory elements. A GPS map in a taxi-boat shows an image of the future; an architects model is suddenly scaled to a size where a businessman can open the door of his paper car to be driven into a completed and entirely populated city.

squint/operas trademarks of combining the live and the computer-generated, telling and frequently amusing details and narrative coherence are all present.

Discussion

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