Mays Albeik

Dubai Design Week / E.B. White

E.B. White, The Door
Project by Mays Albeik

In The Door by E. B. White we take a tour around the mind of an unsettled person through paragraphs of alternating lucidity and ramblings. The story is complex and multilayered, addressing themes of modern life, psychology, happiness and expectations.

The narrator begins the story in the third person, but through his ramblings about the despair of trying to jump through the right doors to happiness (as rats try to jump through the right cards for food) he gradually switches to the first person, sucking the reader into the story and blurring the line between the reader, the narrator and the protagonist; we all become the same person and, like the rats, we are all unsatisfied and disoriented.

I set out to explore these disorienting shifts in scale and viewpoints, as well as the theme of unmet expectations and the contrasting and dual nature of the mind.

The structure sits small in a vast and serene site, with gentle steps and soft slopes. When approached, the structure seems straightforward and simple; at the end of a long passage is a view of the horizon (a goal) and it seems to the viewer that it is a simple matter of crossing through to reach it. Once inside, however, it becomes gradually evident that the other side is impossible to access, as the visitor keeps descending further down below the level of the horizon. The structure only offers teasing views, but never ways to escape and arrive at them.

The topography of the site, subtle in the outdoors, becomes loud and forceful inside the structure, and like the mind of the unsettled, the space exaggerates what it receives from the outside world, and its effects on the interior are blown out of proportions. The gentle variations of the context meet and become a big imposing form that holds a deceiving and irregular space. The hall’s ceiling slants down drastically, creating a conical shape that is acoustically ideal for performances and concerts, challenging the visitor’s perception and expectation as soon as she enters the building.