Academic | UC Berkeley, instructor Prof. C. Greig Crysler, 2015

We are living in a world increasingly flattened by social media with a saturation of images. Information can be easily manipulated into a constructed narrative. On the surface, Abu Dhabi, with its name meaning “happiness”, is known as a luxury retreat covered with clusters of star architects’ work. This 9-square poster responds to a series of journalism revealing architecture labour exploitation in Abu Dhabi’s that remains unseen. Construction workers, who mostly migrated from underprivileged countries through lucrative agencies, only ended up with excessive long working hours in cruel conditions, underpaid with no insurance nor employment rights, squeezed in overcrowded dormitory, even with their passports illegally detained. As this investigation caused a sensation, a few star architects voiced different opinions on this situation which provoked massive debates. Frank Gehry argued that architects should actively involve in protecting workers’ rights whereas Zaha Hadid stated it was the government’s responsibility to oversee and regulate, as architects have no power over it. This poster not only reflects on the consumption of images and brands in our society, but also questions the role and ethics of architects.

© 2022 Daisy Zhang