Origami giants take over Dubai's skyline in new viral artist project

Indian artist Rohith Jagadisha says it was all about bringing his daughter's imagination to life

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Dubai has been reimagined yet again. This time, enormous origami sculptures tower high over the city’s most famous landmarks — including Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab and more — giving its celebrated skyline a run for its money.

The scenes are part of a new video, which has gone viral in the UAE, even being reposted by Dubai Tourism. The video’s creator, 3D artist Rohith Jagadisha, says he is shocked by the response.

“I never expected this at all,” says Jagadisha. “People really love it. But actually, this was something I did just for my daughter.”

The Indian artist began working on the video two months ago, as a way of fulfilling a promise he made to his daughter Vipanchi, 7, during the height of the pandemic.

“My daughter and I used to go to Pearl Beach every day, sit there and be mesmerised by the Dubai skyline, just enjoying the view.” Like her parents, who are both artists, Vipanchi has always been creative; and has enjoyed making origami for years.

“I was just showing my daughter some small origami creations one day, and she said, ‘Dubai has so many huge buildings, what if I created a huge origami here?’”

It was a typically creative idea from the young girl, who has always had an artistic streak — she's even painted the walls of their home. “I thought, ‘Oh, OK, that’s interesting,” Jagadisha says.

The artist, 39, promised to turn her vision into a reality one day, but struggled to find the time to do it. However, earlier this year, after working in Dubai for 13 years, he and his family moved back to Karnataka in India.

“At first, I was busy with some freelance projects, but then I had a break and my daughter started asking, ‘What happened? You promised me you’d show me something’,” he says with a laugh. “So I started working on it for her. I did it just for the sake of her. All for her.”

Although Jagadisha graduated with a bachelor's degree in fine arts, in the 2000s, as the 3D industry took off, he decided to retrain in new technologies. “At the time, my main skill was sculptures and painting, but I moved to this field because just doing painting is very hard.”

Today, he works as a 3D generalist, specialising in a wide array of fields. “In the 3D industry, there are a lot of departments — there’s a modelling department, animation, lighting, compositing and so on. As a generalist, you have to know all of them.”

To produce the video, Jagadisha created 3D origami figures and imposed them over footage of different locations across Dubai: Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai Frame, Burj Al Arab, Dubai Marina, Museum of the Future, Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, Burj Khalifa and more.

After working on the project for a month, full-time, he unveiled his project, much to his daughter’s delight.

“I’d completely created Dubai in 3D in the past, and used to always take her with me to all these places, so she knew them very well,” he says. “She was amazed,” he recalls. And she was not the only one.

Jagadisha also shared his creation with the world at large, and it has since gone viral on Facebook, Instagram and even LinkedIn.

Overwhelmed by the response, he says he is looking forward to his next project. “I’m definitely going to do more creative things like this. I’ll come up with some new ideas.”

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Updated: August 17, 2022, 11:06 AM