Norm-al

I am writing this aboard a 14-hour flight, not because I have nothing else to do (I actually slept for 6.5 hours and watched three movies) but because I am in my mind, away from distractions, away from people, away from anything that could influence my thinking or cloud my judgements or twist my emotions; I can think clearly.

And when I really think of it, of the life I’m living, when you really, deeply, profoundly look at everything around you, you’ll notice how odd some things may appear (or at least I do). We have adapted a little too thoroughly in today’s world that we have become so caught up in what seems to be “normal,” which according to the dictionary by the way means “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.”

Just thinking of this one word, normal, which has always existed, which still remains the same, the exact same definition; it didn’t change. But time changed, people changed, time will keep changing, and people will keep changing to adapt to being viewed as normal. It’s interesting because normal once meant playing hide and seek with your siblings, cousins and friends in the garden running around stepping on stones that cut your feet but you know it’s okay cause it happens to everyone….and now it means everybody has to own a pocket-sized device that can connect them to the entire world in just a matter of seconds, otherwise they (we) are not normal.

But what’s really happening here? We are actually just going with the flow, following the norm, trying so hard to catch up that we are blinded by our silly wants. We fail to realize, we fail to see, we fail to appreciate the beauty, the beauty of life, of ourselves, of our families, of our friends, of our daily usual or unusual encounters, of time, of space, of the heat from the sun or the breeze of the wind or the smell of freshly trimmed grass or the taste of ice cold mangoes or the freedom of being underwater or the the the.. Too many details that pass by us without much love and appreciation.

We fail. We fail again. We fail until a lot has passed by, until our cup of life is almost full.

But the beauty of this life is that it is never too late. To wake up. To grow up. To realize. To recreate. To start. To fix. It’s never too late to do it all over again.

Allow yourself to genuinely observe, comprehend, and feel. Just be happy and grateful for the good AND bad. Psychology says, you can’t really feel good until you have experienced bad. But more importantly, Allah says, ( فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْراً * إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْراً ), which literally translates to: surely you have to go through “some” difficulty, in order to reach the “ultimate” ease. Just a little difficulty for a lot of ease. How beautiful is that? And it’s repeated for reassurance. Notice the linguistic values used. He said العسر, one عسر, you just need to go through some difficulty to reach the يسرًا, many, big, ultimate ease.

Ok I have to switch off my phone now. Toodles till my next flight perhaps?

Roudha
April 8, 2014 (last updated April 25, 2014)

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Headcase

Sorry, I have a brain injury.

It became a joke. I used it to excuse mistakes I made, things I forgot that I should’ve remembered, references nobody got, words that came out of my mouth in the wrong order — really, nearly any random thing I did that made people raise an eyebrow.



I have a brain injury.

That is, until one day someone spoke up and called me out for being insensitive, and politely informed me that real people have brain injuries, and brain injuries are serious things — not something you pop off as a joke because you were 15 minutes late or forgot the name of a song.



I never used the phrase again. Not because it was an insensitive joke — because it was true. The fact it had become a joke was perhaps a defense mechanism. In the months-long recovery, I was self-conscious of the mistakes I made, the holes in my memory, the difficulties I had communicating with others.



The day someone tried to correct me for being insensitive, I realized I’d recovered enough to “pass.” I no longer needed the crutch of constantly reminding those around me — those who knew, knew; those who didn’t wouldn’t think anything was amiss. For all they could tell, I was just like them.



That moment was a bit bittersweet. No longer was I struggling to overcome something that should’ve killed me. No longer was I a hero or some sort of miracle. No longer was I an exception. As far as anyone could see, I was just like anyone else. I should’ve been happy, but I wasn’t. When you spend eight months of your life striving to reach some mythical middle line where people no longer think something’s wrong with you, where you’re embarrassed to be with yourself in public — achieving that goal turns out not to be all that grand.



Four years ago today, at approximately 2:30 a.m., I was dead. Revived, I died again. Revived once more, I remained in a deep and persistent coma, unresponsive to anything. Days drug on. After nearly a week, I awakened. Statistically speaking, 99 percent of those who sustain a brain injury of similar severity die. Of those who survive, 99 percent can no longer live independently. They’ve typically had multiple brain surgeries. I have had none, but that makes my injury no less severe.

Statistically speaking, I am a miracle.

As a reward, I get to live the rest of my life with everybody else assuming I’m “normal.” In the months following my return home, I often found myself wishing I’d broken a leg or something — anything so people would understand I was debilitated. People don’t see what they can’t see.



I have a brain injury.”

Defined by Words

“There’s a fear of mine, of running out of words. Are our vocabularies so limited that this is even possible? Our feelings condensed in four letter monosyllables like it’s so easy. I say, if it’s a legitimate concern, let us vow not to run out of words at all. We’ll discover new ones nobody’s heard of, just for us, or make up our own so nobody realises that when we say “plikfana” we’re saying “my heart is yours”.

And for now we’re bound by language, but what about later? If I could transcribe entire tongues on your skin who’s to say we’d ever run out of words at all? All the ink would be my lips and fingertips, and the words would be goosebumps left behind, like alien Braille.

Hell, we could turn the words into music notes. Let the rhythms speak to us instead, bobbing little symbols on a vibrating throat giving away more secrets than we meant to give. All of that could be in the air, conducted by a skillful wrist until all the songs are about us in some way or another.

I’ll say “I love you” until it’s nothing but a half-asleep slur, but I’ll keep finding other ways to say it until we won’t need words at all. Books will fill with our vocabulary and in the future scholars will look back on our letters with awe and never know that all those symbols were measured heartbeats on paper.”

You

“Today, I watched a movie and tried to push away the thought of you, tried not to imagine us on the screen acting out each scene as I asked you to stay and you answered by walking away. I miss the ocean in you. The quiet tide of your fingertips crashing on the shore of my senses, the gentle ebb and flow of your voice, your eyes, your breath; the waves of your desire, the sandy beaches of your smile, the depth of you, the blue of you, the whole of you.
I turned seventeen and forgot what it felt like to be sixteen. Has that ever happened to you? I wonder if one day I’ll flip a page and forget what it feels like to find you everywhere. This morning I woke up and waited for you to happen to me again. There’s that moment of freedom beforehand; the sun is stretching its sleepy hands across my bedroom wall and my eyes are inching open, remnants of dreams still caught in their corners, and the thought of you isn’t the titanic anymore. It’s only a drop, a mere ripple in a shipwreck of things swimming through my mind, and it’s beautiful to belong to myself for a while. But seconds later, and there you are again, blooming like a bruise across my skin, kicking off every other passenger on my train of thought, so that at every station, there’s only you, you, you.
Have you ever wondered where a memory goes when it’s forgotten? In seventeen years of turning with this world, I’ve been to more funerals than baby showers, seen more knees kiss the earth in pain than in prayers, read more poems about loss than about love, but somehow they’re always the same. Everything is the same, and you are the only face that ever matters, the only name that’s more than just a word, you are always the only one. What I’m trying to say is that I miss you. Is that these posts will never come close to doing this feeling justice. How can I explain to you, that I feel you here? I feel you beating in my chest and breathing with my breath and seeping through my head. You’re here, you know? But you’re not.
You’re not here when loneliness wraps so tight around my body I am convinced it is someone else. You’re not here when all I need is to hear your lips wrap around my name so it doesn’t feel like I’m fading away. You’re not here when I put my caps lock on and beg for someone to save me- you’re nowhere to be found. But my fingers find these keys and keep the idea of you awake for a little longer.
You are exhausting to love. My heart is so tired of feeling for the both of us; it is so sick of trying to find ways to make yours pronounce my name, it is fed up of rock bottom being a familiar place. You are exhausting to love, but too beautiful to ignore. Rain. You are rain. Except you are never falling my way. I am always asking you to stay when you answer by walking away.
I love you in a language you are yet to find the audacity to learn.”

Such a beautiful script..

For the Lonely

So i’m in this new phase where i’m starting to find and appreciate random interesting texts while i browse the internet and i will be sharing a few that caught my attention, impressed me, or even something that i feel i can relate to. Here’s my first text slash quote post:

For the Lonely:
“There is some misconception about those that feel that they are alone. We are never truly alone, but only feel that way. Imagine you are sitting on a beach with the surf licking your feet. If you sit there long enough, the tide will come closer to you.
The sea itself wants to lick more of you.
Now, you might argue that when the tide recedes, the sea no longer wants you. This is where I’d say that there’s a misconception. It’s not that the sea no longer wants you, but the sea knows that its time has come for it to break away from you because it is now the sun’s turn. The lightening on the horizon marks the sun’s return. A new day to illuminate the world, but also to rise high and light your way through a new day.
If you choose to remain indoors, well that’s your choice, but the sun is up and is finding its way into your room and into your company. That light filtering in is the sun itself reaching out for you.
Being alone is non-existent. There is always an entire world surrounding you with its comforting arms. The sea, stars, moon, sun, and the very air you breathe are always there for you. Lay on that beach and the sand will conform to your body. Bathe in the sun and it’s light will touch each inch of your exposed skin to warm you. The moon and stars will light your way in the dark.
Loneliness isn’t because there is an absence of someone in your life. It’s an absence of realization that you are surrounded by an entire world.”

Have a blessed Ramadan y’all ❤

The Weev Hotel – Senior Project 2013

Hi people. Long time. Never thought i’d post again. Like ever. But now that i’m forever freeeeeee, freshhhhh graduate, summer 2013 times infinityyyyyy, i am actually doing this because i WANT to and not because i HAVE to. What a delightful feeling.

Anyway, so i’d like to share my capstone project that i’ve been working on for the past 4 months.

It’s a hotel. (duh from the title).

This is just the final final presentation boards where I was limited to 8 and tried to put it as much of the important info as i can. Of course i worked much harder than this pretty lil cupcake.

PRESENTATION.

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this is just an introductory piece.

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this board shows the program of the entire hotel and the services divisions, as well as one of the many case studies that i have done.

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This piece shows the study regarding the site or the exact location of the hotel, which is on the shallow deserts of Dubai right across Global Village on Emirates Road. This board also depicts the sand dunes of the site and how the overall desert surrounding can actually have an impact on the hotel. Finally an important study that I have done regarding how weather can affect human emotions, and a study on Proxemics: the study of spaces (you can read about this in further detail below in the research section).

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This board shows the concept study and design development. It also shows photos of a series of models that I have done which show various container compositions which are possible for future expansions. My final selection compound design is just atypical plan, and future variations are quite possible.

Photo Jun 06, 2 37 25 PM (1)

Final Model depicting plan view of each complex/compound.

Photo Jun 06, 3 01 59 PM (1)

Final Model depicting custom design of window openings.

Photo Jun 06, 2 37 13 PM (2)

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This is the reception. Basically you give your car for valet and get picked up by buggies to take you to the reception for check in, then get dropped off to your complex or room.

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What a typical 1 bedroom looks like.

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Here’s the two-bedroom villa which comes in a two-story interconnected container.Image

Last but not least, is the the three-bedroom container mostly for large families or group of friends.

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Your view when you wake up in the morning. Now ain’t that some piece of awesome relaxation?!

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Perspective showing the balcony right after sunset.

RESEARCH.

Here’s part of my final research for whoever is interested to read and understand more about this conceptual project.

1. Introduction

Dubai is now an ever-growing city that is continuously building its economy to sustain not only the 4 million annual visitors but also its own population of 2 million individuals (The National, 2012). Right after the emirate Abu Dhabi, it is the second-largest city, which is located in the heart of the UAE that connects the other emirates making it a leading spot for business, settlement, entertainment, education, and tourism, as it is one of the fastest growing cities in the world (Rowe, 2012).

Re-Thinking The Box deals with conceptual projects that propose both public and private spaces in the United Arab Emirates. The “Box” here refers to shipping containers being converted into either permanent homes or temporary accommodations. Introducing The Weev Hotel, a public space project located in the other side of Dubai, away from the rush and the tightness of the city life, targets mostly local families, friends, and even couples who visit the desert very often for a temporary period of time in order to escape the pressure of the city and enjoy the beautiful climate during Dubai’s top season. Not to mention, visiting and camping at the desert is known to be one of Dubai’s most notable adventures; it is highly ranked in the to-do list of various worldwide bloggers. Traditionally speaking, Emiratis and the desert have a strong bond that connects them to their culture, whether it was for camping, for riding motorbikes and buggies, for having a family lunch on sand dunes, or even for simply enjoying the weather and the sight of a delightful sunset. It has a historical symbol that represents the country’s origin and emergence through time. Therefore, there is a need to commemorate nature’s fading existence due to the speed and expansion of the city life.

1.1 Research Goals/Objectives and Outcome

The main objective of The Weev is to give those who occasionally camp at the desert a chance to be comfortable, relaxed, and enjoy hospitality services whilst reflecting on the climate of the desert. Spending the night with friends, family, or a partner in tents can be very irritating and unpleasant for many reasons, most of which include back pains. Moreover, tents do not provide adequate or safe shelter; it cannot withstand major winds or cold weathers, therefore this hotel project being transformed in shipping containers can fulfill almost every need. Another goal that is being aimed at has to do with correlation between the concept and the site location. People are constantly traveling or going on road trips throughout the United Arab Emirates, coming from Abu Dhabi or from Ajman, Ras Al Khaima, Fujairah, and even Oman. Those travelers will most probably visit Dubai – or pass by it – for business and leisure purposes such as shop, eat, visit attractions, etc. Therefore, the fact that this hotel situates at the shallow desert right across the Emirates Road, those travelers who come all the way from another city to attend the Global Village for example, can firstly be amused there, then spend a night in this hotel, and head back the following day, instead of having to travel back the same night.

1.2 Methods

Designing the interior space of these stacked containers require several methods to be considered. Firstly, studying the case of “designing small spaces” to accomplish the task of creating a space that can be multifunctional and serve the guests the maximum number of needs required when staying for a short period of time at a hotel. Following that aspect, a survey of ten questions, which targets both men and women, has been conducted to address the issue of practicality, lifestyle, and certain accommodations on spending a couple of nights at the desert. Furthermore, it targets those who also live away from Dubai questioning their often visit to the city as well as their additional thoughts on the concept of this hotel project.

Another technique that is aimed at in this research is to draw out further accurate details by creating a focus group that poses questions regarding the issue of temporary stay or camping in a contained hotel at the desert. This group is composed of randomly selected Emirati individuals of both genders in which an open discussion will take place around the concept of the project. The recorded discussion will then be followed by a brainstorm period through which the primary ideas and key findings will be extracted.

Lastly, secondary resources are being use to generate accurate information. Smart designing techniques and certain references are being used from books such as New Small Spaces produced by Collins Design, Micro, Very Small Buildings by Ruth Sland, and Small Eco Houses by Page One. Moreover, online newspaper articles and reliable academic websites and journals are assisting in modifying this study.

1.3 Results

Based upon the studies carried out regarding the issue of camping in Dubai’s desert, the feedbacks received from 100 people who took the survey created specifically created for this project influenced the location and hospitality services of The Weev.

Most of the participants who took the survey have either camped or know people who camp at the desert. Hence, the numbers double up since most of them mentioned that they know friends or family who occasionally go camping. 60% of those who have camped in a desert noted that it is very uncomfortable to sleep in tents as it gets cold at night, as well as the issue of going to the restroom.

The number of days that people temporary camp for at the desert, as analyzed in the survey, range from one to seven days. Not to mention 80% of them would prefer to spend the night fully refurbished shipping container hotel if the hotel could provide them with certain necessities.

Furthermore, having created a focus group generated further thoughts regarding the issue of camping. Almost everyone claims to go camping with friends and family almost 1 – 5 times a year. Most of the responses come down to one main issue, which is the trouble of going to the bathroom. Of the 8 people who dedicated their time for this discussion group, most complained about the temperature at night. The tent or the sleeping bag does not protect the body enough from the cold temperatures, hence they end up waking up, some of which may even sleep next to the fireplace. Two members brought up the issue of scorpions and roaches, which becomes very irritating and uncomfortable. Therefore, having a not-too-fancy hotel at the desert that can offer the same feeling of camping yet still manage to control some level of formality becomes essential.

1.4 Discussion

Knowing that the selected containers are sustainable to the environment, it gives an opportunity to make this hotel affordable, which mainly targets Emiratis as well as Arabs who vacate at the desert every once in a while. Furthermore, it is not restricted to only local people but rather accepts anyone – tourists, foreigners and residents living in the UAE – who is interested in spending some quality time away from the city and in the open of Dubai’s true nature. Due to the UAE moving at a high speed towards modernization, here is another chance of connecting with Dubai’s original state of cultural background, i.e. nature.

Some people may prefer to do things more traditionally and would rather use their old-fashioned tents rather than spending the night in a fully refurbished container. Camping in the deep deserts can be quite unexpected, especially that we humans – and especially people who live in Dubai – are accustomed to living under certain amount of comfort such as water and electricity at the minimum. Therefore, the given space located nearby the hotel provides those people to use the space as campsites. Not to mention, by giving them the privilege to use the hotels’ amenities such as water, electricity, restrooms, and food, this will ease the process of bringing their own survival tools.

Having selected a specific period of time for the project to take place is based on two events: the level of activities that are taking place provided by Dubai’s entrepreneurs and commercialists, and the climate of the site context. John Grohol argues in his “Weather Can Change Your Mood” that sunlight and weather temperature are the two main components that play a significant role in affecting our moods (2009). Researchers have conducted studies that dictate how certain weather conditions can have an impact on human emotions. There are many weather elements that may affect the moods of people, however this research will only focus on three major factors that relate to both Dubai’s climate and the time during which this project will take place. These factors are sunlight, temperature, and humidity.

Study findings have clearly identified that the level of humidity and feelings such as being lazy or sleepy are directly proportional. Therefore, increasing humidity can eventually lead to having unpleasant sleep, and everyone can acknowledge that bad sleep equals bad mood. Furthermore, temperature, specifically very high or very low temperatures, can have a major negative role on a person’s mood such that hot weathers can trigger anger whereas cold weathers are very likely to cause depression.

There are two types of mood and behavior hormones in our bodies that are affected by sunlight, which are Melatonin and Serotonin. Melatonin is the hormone that allows us to feel sleepy and tired whereas Serotonin is the complete opposite; it keeps us alert and happy. As a result, when sunlight contacts the human body, it prevents production of the sleepy hormone Melatonin and instead starts producing the feel-good hormone Serotonin (Loewen, 2011; Laine, n.d.). Hence, the fact that this hotel project will run through October to March, it becomes an ideal time and location where the climate is at its least humidity and its best temperature stirring human emotions and creating an optimistic environment.

Moreover, Proxemics is the study of space and how certain distances between people can have an impact on human behavior. There are four main categories branched out of this study and they are as the following:

– Intimate space

– Personal space

– Social space

– Public space

Each of these spaces has an approximate feet distance established to allow people to carry out certain private or public tasks. The Weev has taken into consideration the psychology of interior design and carried out studies of spatial analysis in order to create a plan that best fits the criteria of giving people the maximum level of comfort.

 

1.5 Conclusion

Following the commonly asked question of “what makes this project unique,” it is an absolute necessity to state that the aim here is not to be different, but rather to offer an experience that uses a distinctive approach by providing the guests who pay a visit to the desert occasionally, a different experience and a comfortable place to stay in and communicate with their surroundings. Not to mention, to ease the process of road trips from one city to another by offering a temporary stay that provides certain services and amenities, rather than having to drive back on the same day. Furthermore, the site’s widespread location offers a benefit to those who wish to use their own tents to camp. They are able to use the surroundings of the hotel as a campsite as well as use the basic available amenities provided for restroom and refreshment purposes.

1.6 Reference List

Badam, R. (2012, April 2). Dubai Population Rises to 2 Million. The National. Retrieved February 22, 2012 from http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/dubai-population-rises-to-2-million

Grohol. J. M. (2009). Weather Can Change Your Mood. Retrieved February 25, 2013 from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/11/09/weather-can-change-your-mood/

Leberecht, T. (2006, November 24). Proxemics: Designing for the Comfort Zone. Retrieved March 17, 2013 from http://designmind.frogdesign.com/blog/proxemics-designing-comfort-zone.html

Loewen, C. S. (2011, November 8). Effects of Weather on Human Emotions. Retrieved March 12, 2013 from http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/15843/1/Effects-of-Weather-on-Human-Emotions.html

Rowe, T. (2012, Feb). Dubai Economic Outlook 2012: Power of Vision – Economic Development in an Uncertain World. Rothschild Australia Limited. [PDF document] Retrieved February 17, 2012 from http://www.dubaided.gov.ae/English/ecosrch/Outlook2012/event/MgeContentsDocLib/Session%201%20-%20Speaker%203%20-%20TREVOR.pdf

2. Design Documents

2.1 Predesign

  • Statement

The aim and objective of The Weev as mentioned above is to solve the issue of having a comfortable to stay in during frequent trips to the desert, away from the tall buildings, the ongoing movement, and the clustered life of the city. In addition, people who are on constant road trips that pass by Dubai are given a chance to spend a few nights in this hotel while enjoying the facilities provided, in which they will continue embarking on their journey the following day.

However, there is a motive behind the selected design concept, which relates to the site’s surroundings. There main objective to merge the confined space of the interior with the vastness of the desert that is encircling the hotel. Therefore this creates a state of balance and equilibrium that will lead to a more relaxing environment.

The Weev is derived from the act of weaving or the act of intertwining two things – or more – together with a purpose of making it a single unit. This unit becomes the foundation and the basis of what is yet to come. Having things compiled and merged together creates power and strength that can withstand enormous load. This idea of connecting or “weaving” plays an important role with the design concept of the desert. Merging the tightness of the interior with the vastness of the desert creates a correlation with the notion of weaves.

Furthermore, The Weev offers several compartments spread out onto different levels of the desert giving each compound enough space to carry out private activities. These compartments are connected to one another by the on-going change of the desert’s motion by the wind. The sand dunes may even intertwine and shape some of the containers making it a natural feature.

  • Context Analysis

Since Dubai is associated within two categories: an urban context and a rural context, The Weev Hotel will be situated right in the center of these two areas, making it an important spot for several purposes as previously discussed. By selecting a 6-month period program for this hotel to be operating on, specifically from October to March, it provides a certain type of climate that surrounds the site. Therefore, the selected period of time suggests that it is Dubai’s best weather as it runs between 10 degrees Celsius and 30 degrees Celsius during winter and spring, which will definitely stir emotion and allow people to connect with nature.

  • Site Analysis

The selected location fits the objective being aimed in this project, which is giving the guests a wide range of activities and places to visit, especially the Global Village, which is one of the most visited annually during the festival by everyone that offers shopping, food, entertainment, games, etc. Not to mention some interesting close by restaurants and adventurous attractions such as The Farm in Al Barari, Arabian Ranches, and Dubai Motor City.

This site offers two kinds of atmospheres: firstly an exciting and entertaining environment by visiting the nearby places, and secondly – on the other side – a calm, relaxing, and reflective environment provided by the nature of the desert.

The rest of the research contains many images and design documents, hence I’ve just posted the important wordings that might further help you understand the project.

So…thanks for your time!!