ETH Studio Basel
Muscat + Oman Territorial Investigation
Contemporary Urban Forms
German University of Technology, Halban Campus, Auditorium 101 M
Muscat has historically been a kind of city-state, comparable to the likes of Venice or Genoa, a proto-global center of maritime exchange with an empire encompassing parts of South Asia and West Africa. Muscat’s traditional hinterland, its source of wealth, is not the physical land surrounding it.
Oman without Muscat is the beauty of the oasis, mountain and desert. Clear conditions direct permanent settlement around water springs and wadis, a spatial occupation is developed based on age-old knowledge of water management.
Since the discovery of oil, these two clear entities have become interwoven, and are now in consequential relationships with each other, at times overlapping, at times compensating, at times threatening one another. The last 40 years have seen an impressive scale of development in the entire Arab Gulf, however Muscat and Oman offer a special case therein, where the urban form is still embedded in the landscape, allowing for the possibility to recognize and follow contemporary developments. Current issues include its geopolitical situation on the Strait of Hormuz, the surprisingly delicate relationship with its Gulf neighbors and the uncertain future of its autocracy.