London's first Design Biennale has a utopian theme

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credit: Bonnie Alter

With 37 different countries represented, the interpretation of the theme differs. Countries were encouraged to look at the history of the utopian ideal and think about the issues facing humanity and how to solve them through design and engineering.

The UAE exhibit is exploring the water systems of the Gulf's oases. It's a delicate and beautifully constructed demonstration of the Falaj: a centuries old irrigation system that once stretched across the Gulf. It was a centre for the community because settlements developed around the water sources as did public buildings and commerce. The exhibit explores how the few remaining ones work and how the communal concept could be adapted for modern day use.

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